I often say that the reason why the movies continue to dominate year
after year and set new box office records is because they know how to
play on our sub conscious minds better than any other medium. Music
used to be that way but has lost sight of its traditional and deepening
roots. The movies often take us to places far away and beyond our
imaginations and often make us feel that we'd love to be up there with
our heroes on screen. In each given year, the films generally nominated
for the Best Picture Oscar and the ones that usually win, are films set
in the past and teach us something about history --- not just to prepare
us for where we're going but to bring us closer together with other
generations who lived back then.
'October Sky', a true story, has all the elements a young person can
identify with. Whether your a part of today's youth or a participant in
it from years gone by, this film has everything. A jealous but decent
man for a father, not wanting to see his son turn out better than
himself in life. A wise and inspiring teacher who is a constant
reminder that life is all about choice. Best friends who stand by your
side and work through the tough times --- having just as much to gain or
lose as you do, and through it all, the determination to do something
with your life despite who you are and where you come from.
Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Homer Hickam, a young man from Coalwood, West
Virginia who doesn't want the life of a coal miner and would eventually
go on to be a premium rocket scientist at NASA. After hearing about
numerous accidents and a few deaths as a result of work in the mines,
Homer wants a better life for himself and is fascinated by rocket
science. His hero is Werner von Braun, the man who helped the United
States develop advanced space techniques and eventually gain world
superiority by putting a man on the moon.
The story of 'October Sky' begins in 1957 and the Russians have become
the first country to put a man in space and determined to develop their
own space program during the cold war, the U.S. must stay competitive
with their enemy. Inspired by this, Homer and his friends (William Lee
Scott and Chad Lindberg) begin in their own front yard building
rockets. They eventually enlist the help of one of their class mates
who is the school nerd (Chris Owen). He has no friends, wears glasses
and always has his nose stuck in a book. He knows quite a bit about
physics and general rocket propulsion and helps out a great deal. Their
first few experiments are disastrous. They destroy a fence, almost kill
someone when the rocket gets sent out flying hazardously among the
town's general population and are arrested when one of their rockets is
suspected of starting a serious fire. They find a deserted open rock
patch about 8 miles from town, and erect a flag and small shack to
continue their experiments.
Jake is inspired by a teacher (Laura Dern), whom he deeply respects, and
conflicts heavily with the ideas of his father (Chris Cooper), a foreman
in the coal mines, about how the course of his life should be taken.
Eventually winning many science contests puts the boys in competition
for the national finals in Indianapolis, Indiana where Homer gets to
shake hands with Werner von Braun and doesn't even realize it.
At a time when so many people are generally unhappy with their lives,
this film takes you to new dimensions and says that anyone can do
anything they want with their life and while that sounds like a tired
statement, this movie demonstrates that we need a constant boost to make
us feel better about ourselves.
Copyright © 2000 Walter Frith