WHAT WE THINK:
– Some suspense with a topping of maths? It can be done.
JUST A FEW WORDS (IN THE HEAT OF THE MOMENT):
Apollo 13 is a film that feeds on suspense.
With attention to detail, a fair amount of research into what happened, the film manages (through a really interesting editing) to recreate a good degree of tension amongst all the parts and to keep it for most of the film.
In fact, the actual setup of the accident takes up about 1/4th of the film. The rest revolves around the frantic researches on how to make the three astronauts, who are drifting more than 200 thousand miles away from Earth, survive and then land back on Earth. And so, the turning of what seems it’s going to be the NASA’s “Darkest Hour” to what Ed Harris confidently define as its “finest hour“.
Towards the end, the film uses some obvious triumphalist traits, partially justified by the enormous difficulty of the operation and the consequent success. If 2/3rd of the narrative spectrum (spacecraft, ground control) are managed flawlessly and with extreme sagacity, the narrative dynamics of the family weighs the film down a bit, derailing it on tracks that are too traditional of the American cinema.
In conclusion, based on a true story, the film does everything to remain coherent and faithful to those events, without however renouncing to a healthy dose of suspense created with the means of the narrative art. A precarious and difficult balance (although part of this tension is intrinsic to the event itself) which, however, remains on its feet and makes it an interesting film to watch, provided you like “drifts” in space and you can go beyond the not-so-subtle triumphalistic ending.
- Ed Harris’ acting.
- Editing – it’s really hard to handle the suspense on three point of views, instead of the more common two sides.
- The accurate research and the attention to the detail.
- Thematically: the idea that success can be born off the back of failure.
- The film, perhaps even subtly, criticises the media attention that turns to this event only when the possibility of drama is in sight, but maybe, towards the end, falls into the trap of the epic tale of success and grandeur, making it almost a victim of the same media flaw that he tried to criticise in an hinted way.
- Al already mentioned, the way they manage the family point of view.
- A certain mimetic and even too methodical form of filmmaking.
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