Sunday, March 22, 2009

[DVD] Apollo 13: To the Edge and Back (1994)

If you're game to revisit the Apollo 13 mission and want to do away with the dramatics of the Ron Howard version, then perhaps this documentary would be what you're looking for. It doesn't come with a lot of bells and whistles, relying instead on plenty of stock footage and CG graphics to enhance the narrative in explaining what the astronauts Jim Lovell, Fred Haise and Jack Swigert had to go through when they're seemingly trouble-free mission turned out to be something quite unexpected, relying on the smarts of everyone from the lunar capsule right down to mission control to pull them out of their predicament.

It doesn't just focus on the mission itself, but at appropriate times branches off to provide the viewer with a more holistic view of the entire 60s space race between the USA and USSR, with the latter gaining plenty of one-ups against their rival, until unexpected tragedies forced a quiet shutdown of their lunar program, with JFK pushing the lunar objective through to NASA. We also get to see some of the failed attempts of the USA's with their rockets going anywhere but skywards, and you wonder just how massive each space program was in trying to get mankind lifted off from Earth.

It doesn't get any better than this with the real life astronauts and mission control crew providing first hand account of that mission which some of the superstitious had a field day with, given the 13th mission of the Apollo program, which blasted off on the 13th of April, at the time of 1313 hrs. That aside, the documentary by Noel Buckner and Rob Whittlesey is presented quite matter-of-factly with talking head interviews with the Jim Lovell, Fred Haise, and many more from ground control, including their rival Cosmonauts where you realize that on an individual level, it's about the triumph of man over which country being able to get bragging rights. On a National level, yes it boils down to being ahead, but for those involved and on the ground, whatever progress has been made, is a triumph in itself, and every tragedy reverberating through the space community.

And yes, that infamous duct tape solution also gets mentioned here, although not in more details that I would have preferred, including any post incident investigation into what exactly had gone wrong. So if your preference is more for the dramatic flair provided by actors, then you just might want to stick to the Ron Howard version. Otherwise for a very succinct overview of the challenges faced in the mission, then this documentary account would be right up your alley.

The Region Free DVD by WGBH Boston Video comes presented in 4x3 Full Screen format, as it's made for television, and don't expect stock footage to be in pristine condition. Close captioning is provided in English, and scene selection is available over 8 chapters. No other extras included.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...