Apollo 10 Review: The Space Age Child by Richard Linklater

The tent only goes to the fourth year. But one day NASA scientists come up with a query that questions the whole person. If he couldn’t secretly fly to the moon before the astronauts left for the Apollo 11 mission, which will be watched by 600 million viewers. The protagonist of Richard Linklater’s new film, Apollo 10, agrees. Like all the boys of his time, he is obsessed with space and science fiction.

When the 69-year-old American director Linklater, like Stan, was now about ten years old, he dreamed of a similar scene. The reason for this mission for children would be simple: the NASA space agency made the space module too small.

A few decades later, the filmmaker sends at least his animated hero into space in a movie that’s one of the best Netflix has ever produced. In this video library, the film can be viewed with Czech dubbing and subtitles.

Linklater was at the birth of the wave of American independent cinema of the 1990s. Since then, he has constantly returned to the stories of ordinary heroes or to interpersonal relationships. From the Flákač debut through the romantic trilogy Before Dawn, Before Twilight and Before Midnight, where he oscillates remarkably between romance and relationship drama, to the film Boyhood.

The author’s desire to experiment and at the same time tell ordinary everyday stories that will appeal to everyone is fully manifested in him. The touching 2014 drama was kind of a time-consuming feature film. Linklater filmed with the cast for 12 years and thus achieved an unusual intimacy in film, understated and mundane, yet at the same time breathtaking in terms of creative effort and final form.

However, the director has also managed to draw audiences into crazier experiences, especially with his animation work, whether it’s the philosophical title I’m dreaming or I’m watching? or an adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s paranoid sci-fi novel The Dark Image, which is full of drug addicts and people with crumbling identities.

Now Linklater has made a playful little film, where interest in science fiction and ordinary personal stories seem to come together. Unlike the riveting recent Apollo 11 documentary, which turned hundreds of hours of footage into a remarkable “space odyssey” that transcends the boundaries of the documentary genre, the Apollo 10 writer, director and producer doesn’t focus on what happened at NASA. He has ordinary Houston families, whose fathers or mothers served in the space program, while the youngsters lived an ordinary suburban life.

Apollo 10 ½: Child of the Space Age is on Netflix with Czech dubbing and subtitles. | Video: Netflix

Linklater remembers childhood through the eyes of the protagonist. The whole film is a kind of diary, a list of little things that flooded the lives of schoolchildren at the time.

A grown-up narrator’s voice is practically silent, but unlike many films in which such a voice-over is often annoying, there’s a clear rationale here. Jack Black, who spoke about adult Stan, was passionate about the project because he had a similar childhood. And he was proud of his mother, an engineer involved in developing a system that saved the lives of astronauts on another Apollo 13 mission.

This combination of self-interest and captivating animation, combining rotoscoping and 2D and 3D techniques, created a love letter to an era full of cosmic optimism, but also Cold War horrors or social friction. Linklater obtained stacks of photos and personal videos, using which the animators reconstructed the living rooms of the time.

But above all, thanks to the slight detachment from reality offered by even the most realistic animations, it nostalgically captured the world of children’s carelessness and imagination, against the backdrop of which the great story unfolds.

Apollo 10 ½ is therefore above all a declaration of love for an era and its films and television shows – from science fiction like The Thing to the Dark Shadows series – whose fragments acquire an even more magical mark of the times. elders in comic book form. Which were beautiful because those who lived them were young then.

At the same time, the narrator not only brings up the Vietnam War or criticism of the space program, the enormous funds of which could have been invested differently, but more generally, for example, wonders why security was not discussed so much at the time. . As whole families raced over 100 miles an hour for a picnic with a few members just sitting in the back of a pickup truck, as children rode bikes behind cars sprayed with chemicals, so that someone would infest someone with nerve gas once in a while to get rid of a cockroach or two.

The film captures the time of cosmic optimism and the imagination of a boy. | Picture: Netflix

It’s not such a skill to captivate viewers with a successful space mission, in which more than 400,000 people took part. But Linklater achieves something rarer: moving the audience through every little scene that took place somewhere in the quiet of the house, where children roam the streets or drag each other to control the buttons on the TV.

Apollo 10 ½ is a type of film suitable for video libraries. Instead of endless attempts at star-studded, explosive genre films, unsuccessfully rivaling Hollywood cinematographers, Netflix should focus on developing similar, small-audience, personal, yet inventive films.

In an Apollo 10 scene, the screens of old televisions are stacked side by side and a series or period show plays on each. “There were great shows all night. It was hard to choose and they never let you down,” Stan recalls. And then follows a list of The Beverly Hillbillies, Bonanza, Star Trek and Batman. The screens are arranged in rows, similar to Netflix menu windows. The windows where it is often difficult to choose today are flooded with thousands of films and series.

Linklater tells of a world in which many things were rare or limited, such as the offer of a few stations at the time. However, television symbolized abundance in the eyes of children.

Apollo 10 ½ excels in its ability to reflect on such moments with empathy. Audiences are swamped with a wave of nostalgia, but don’t contend that the good old days are over. On the contrary, he recalls that much of it was just an illusion and a distorted imagination of the children. However, that doesn’t diminish the magic of fantasies convincingly captured by a little boy.


Apollo 10 ½: A Child of the Space Age
Screenplay and production: Richard Linklater
The film can be viewed on Netflix.

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