Those interested in science – and lovers of science fiction – would probably be able to tell when they first stepped on the moon: July 20, 1969. Neil Armstrong then made the remark, which has since become a hotel verb:
A small step for a man, but a huge leap for humanity.
The more knowledgeable also know they called two other members of the Apollo-11 crew: Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins.
In Richard Linklater’s latest film, these are not insignificant details. Apollo-10.5: Space Age Childhood takes place in the weeks before the moon landed in Houston, Texas – NASA’s space headquarters.
The protagonist – a nine-year-old guy named Stan – is playing ball with his classmates in the school yard when two men in black suits suddenly approach him. They came from NASA because they need your help: the space shuttle has done too little, an adult can’t fit in anymore, but a kid does – they have to test the undersized vehicle on the moon as well.
Because of his academic performance and other accomplishments, he, Stanley, was selected for this assignment on a 10.5 mission in front of Apollo-11.
The thing, of course, is top secret: you can’t tell your friends or siblings what you’re involved in, or even tell your parents about it.
The little guy nods at the request and starts the hard training for the astronauts during the summer break…
As at some point the adult Stan, who is narrating the film, mentions that he was a great storyteller, the viewer realizes for one that what he saw in the opening scene was only happening in the kid’s Stan’s imagination.
The main thread of the film, then, shows what – fictional – adventures and rehearsals await a teenager who has replaced Neil Armstrong in his fantasy world. (And before we let you know what an idea it is, let’s think about it: at that time, how many kids dreamed of becoming an astronaut and reaching the moon? Certainly not one, not two.)
In addition, of course, we learn about the real conditions of boarding the moon, as we also realize what it was like to be a child in the sixties. Stan brings back his memories of it, so willingly that the viewer realizes after a while that what initially thought was a short detour turned into a good three-quarters-hour recollection of the film!
The “big” topics that determined America’s public discourse in the 1960s — the Vietnam War, Harlem’s social problems, the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union — are just a few brief mentions, but the more detailed the everyday garden city of Stan’s narrower patriarch.
In this predominantly white middle-class environment, almost everyone works for NASA, unreservedly believing in the advancing role of science and the imminent arrival of the space age. (Older people encourage young people to go on a honeymoon by the time they get married, and in the early 2000s anyone can buy a ticket for a six-month trip to Mars.) But this is not only the case, but also the flexibility to handle traffic safety rules or that corporal punishment of children is commonplace.
As an obsessed with pop culture, in addition to his favorite film (2001: Space Duel, What Else?), Stan also covers various TV series and commercials, as well as his brothers’ favorite pop and rock hits and board games. In addition, he devotes a few sentences to topics such as what it was like to break into a push-button phone or how his sisters created their hairstyles.
There is “some” difference between the current and current conditions in terms of the composition of families, the degree of cohesion, and their ability to be happy – and the viewer gets the impression: not necessarily in favor of today.
Although Stan beats, three-quarters of an hour of his recollection gives it a central part of the film. This is hardly a coincidence: screenwriter-director Richard Linklater himself grew up in Houston and used his own memories to build the story, to create the milieu.
Perhaps that’s what made it clear that Apollo-10.5 is a rather unique film. This characteristic is further reinforced by the fact that it was made using a rotoscopic animation technique: the live-action scenes were redrawn from frame to frame by the creators, so that the flesh-and-blood actors were eventually replaced by computer-generated figures. Linklater has already reached out to this solution in his previous animated films – In the Footsteps of Life (2001) and Blurred by Camera (2006).
Towards the end of Apollo-10.5, Stan, who has successfully accomplished the mission imaginatively, will fall asleep in front of the TV, missing out on some of the details of landing on the live moon. One of the most important statements from her mother’s mouth is then: “You know what childhood memory is like. Even though he slept through it, one day he will remember seeing it. ”
So the film is on the one hand a personal confession of love for NASA’s space center, the suburban part of Houston, and the second half of the sixties. On the other hand, it is a reflection on the power of the imagination, the power of memory.
If we were to mention his weaknesses, all we could say is that his pace is a bit comical – so he never really spins up – and sometimes tends to get lost in the details. For all this, however, the kindness and charm that flowed from it – Linklater proved that he is a master of the empathic approach and warm-hearted storytelling – as well as the special, nostalgic and melancholy atmosphere.
So, if you are interested in space exploration, or are interested in the history of the sixties that have disappeared for more than half a century, you may “just” want a compelling, compelling, lovable film based on a specific concept, don’t miss this work by all means!
(Apollo-10.5: Space Age Childhood / Apollo 10 1/2: Space Age Childhood. Synchronized American animated adventure film, drama. Playtime: 97 minutes. Directed by Richard Linklater, 2022. Available on Netflix.)
Cover Image: Scene from the Movie (Photo: Netflix)
Source: Magyar Nemzet by magyarnemzet.hu.
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