|Directed by||Ron Howard|
|Screenplay by||William Broyles Jr. |
John Sayles (uncredited)
|Produced by||Brian Grazer|
|Edited by||Daniel P. Hanley|
|Music by||James Horner|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Box office||$355.2 million|
Apollo 13 is a 1995 American space docudrama film directed by Ron Howard and starring Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, Ed Harris, and Gary Sinise. The screenplay by William Broyles Jr. and Al Reinert dramatizes the aborted 1970 Apollo 13 lunar mission and is an adaptation of the 1994 book Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13, by astronaut Jim Lovell and Jeffrey Kluger. The film tells the story of astronauts Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise aboard Apollo 13 for America's fifth crewed mission to the Moon, which was intended to be the third to land. En route, an on-board explosion deprives their spacecraft of much of its oxygen supply and electrical power, which forces NASA's flight controllers to abort the Moon landing mission and improvise scientific and mechanical solutions to get the three astronauts to Earth safely.
Howard went to great lengths to create a technically accurate movie, employing NASA's assistance in astronaut and flight-controller training for his cast and obtaining permission to film scenes aboard a reduced-gravity aircraft for realistic depiction of the weightlessness experienced by the astronauts in space.
Released to cinemas in the United States on June 30, 1995, Apollo 13 received critical acclaim and was nominated for nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture (winning for Best Film Editing and Best Sound). The film also won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, as well as two British Academy Film Awards. In total, the film grossed over $355 million worldwide during its theatrical releases.
On July 20, 1969, astronaut Jim Lovell hosts a party where guests watch Neil Armstrong's televised first steps on the Moon from Apollo 11. Lovell, who orbited the Moon on Apollo 8, tells his wife Marilyn that he will return to the Moon to walk on its surface.
Three months later, as Lovell is conducting a VIP tour of NASA's Vehicle Assembly Building, his boss Deke Slayton informs him that his crew will fly Apollo 13 instead of 14, swapping flights with Alan Shepard's crew. Lovell, Ken Mattingly, and Fred Haise train for their mission. Days before launch in April of 1970, Mattingly is exposed to German measles, and the flight surgeon demands his replacement with Mattingly's backup, Jack Swigert. Lovell resists breaking up his team, but relents when Slayton threatens to bump his crew to a later mission. As the launch date approaches, Marilyn has a nightmare about her husband dying in space, and tells Lovell she will not go to Kennedy Space Center to see him off for an unprecedented fourth launch. She later changes her mind and surprises him.
On launch day, Flight Director Gene Kranz in Houston's Mission Control Center gives the go for launch. As the Saturn V rocket climbs through the atmosphere, a second stage engine cuts off prematurely, but the craft reaches its Earth parking orbit. After the third stage fires again to send Apollo 13 to the Moon, Swigert performs the maneuver to turn the Command Module Odyssey around to dock with the Lunar Module Aquarius and pull it away from the spent rocket.
Three days into the mission, by order of Mission Control, Swigert turns on the liquid oxygen stirring fans. An electrical short causes a tank to explode, emptying its contents into space and sending the craft tumbling. The other tank is soon found to be leaking. Consumables manager Sy Liebergot convinces Kranz that shutting off two of Odyssey's three fuel cells offers the best chance to stop the leak, but this does not work. With only one fuel cell, mission rules dictate the Moon landing be aborted. Lovell and Haise power up Aquarius to use as a "lifeboat", while Swigert shuts down Odyssey to save its battery power for the return to Earth. Kranz charges his team with bringing the astronauts home, declaring "failure is not an option". Consumables manager John Aaron recruits Mattingly to help him improvise a procedure to restart Odyssey for the landing on Earth.
As the crew watches the Moon pass beneath them, Lovell laments his lost dream of walking on its surface, then turns his crew's attention to the business of getting home. With Aquarius running on minimal electrical power and rationed water supply, the crew suffers from freezing conditions, and Haise develops a urinary tract infection. Swigert suspects Mission Control is concealing the fact they are doomed; Haise angrily blames Swigert's inexperience for the accident; but Lovell squelches the argument. As Aquarius's carbon dioxide filters run out, concentration of the gas approaches a dangerous level. Ground control improvises a "Rube Goldberg" device to make the Command Module's incompatible filter cartridges work in the Lunar Module. With Aquarius's navigation systems shut down, the crew makes a vital course correction manually by steering the Lunar Module and controlling its engine.
Mattingly and Aaron struggle to find a way to power up the Command Module systems without drawing too much power, and finally read the procedure to Swigert, who restarts Odyssey by drawing the extra power from Aquarius. When the crew jettisons the Service Module, they are surprised by the extent of the damage, raising the possibility that the ablative heat shield was compromised. As they release Aquarius and re-enter the Earth's atmosphere, no one is sure that Odyssey's heat shield is intact.
The tense period of radio silence due to ionization blackout is longer than normal, but the astronauts report all is well, and the world watches Odyssey splash down and celebrates their return. As helicopters bring the crew aboard the USS Iwo Jima for a hero's welcome, Lovell's voice-over describes the cause of the explosion, and the subsequent careers of Haise, Swigert, Mattingly, and Kranz. He wonders if and when mankind will return to the Moon.
Apollo 13 crew:
NASA ground personnel:
The movie rights to Jim Lovell's book Lost Moon were being shopped to potential buyers before it was written. He stated that his first reaction was that Kevin Costner would be a good choice to play him.
The original screenplay by William Broyles Jr. and Al Reinert was written with Costner in mind because of his facial similarities with Lovell. By the time Ron Howard acquired the director's position, Tom Hanks had expressed interest in doing a film based on Apollo 13. When Hanks' representative informed him that a script was being passed around he had it sent to him, and Costner's name never came up in serious discussion. Hanks was ultimately cast as Lovell because of his knowledge of Apollo and space history.
Because of his interest in aviation, John Travolta asked Howard for the role of Lovell, but was politely turned down. John Cusack was offered the role of Fred Haise but turned it down. Brad Pitt was offered the role of Jack Swigert, but also turned it down in favor of Seven. Howard invited Gary Sinise to read for any of the characters, and Sinise chose Ken Mattingly.
After Hanks had been cast and construction of the spacecraft sets had begun, John Sayles rewrote the script. While planning the film, Howard decided that every shot would be original and that no mission footage would be used. The spacecraft interiors were constructed by the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center's Space Works, which also restored the Apollo 13 Command Module. Two individual Lunar Modules and two Command Modules were constructed for filming. Composed of some original Apollo materials, they were built so that different sections were removable, which allowed filming to take place inside them. Space Works also built modified Command and Lunar Modules for filming inside a Boeing KC-135 reduced-gravity aircraft, and the pressure suits worn by the actors, which are exact reproductions of those worn by the Apollo astronauts, right down to the detail of being airtight. When suited up with their helmets locked in place, the actors were cooled by and breathed air pumped into the suits, as in actual Apollo suits.
The Christopher C. Kraft Jr. Mission Control Center consisted of two control rooms on the second and third floors of Building 30 at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. NASA offered the use of the control room for filming, but Howard declined, opting instead to make his own replica. Production designer Michael Corenblith and set decorator Merideth Boswell were in charge of the construction of the Mission Control set at Universal Studios. It was equipped with giant rear-screen projection capabilities, and a complex set of computers with individual video feeds to all the flight controller stations. The actors playing the flight controllers could communicate with each other on a private audio loop. The Mission Control room built for the film was on the ground floor. One NASA employee, a consultant for the film, said the set was so realistic that he would leave at the end of the day and look for the elevator before he remembered he was not in Mission Control. The recovery ship USS Iwo Jima had been scrapped by the time the film was made, so her sister ship, New Orleans, was used instead.
To prepare for their roles in the film, Hanks, Paxton, and Bacon all attended the U.S. Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. While there, astronauts Jim Lovell and David Scott, commander of Apollo 15, did actual training exercises with the actors inside a simulated Command Module and Lunar Module. The actors were also taught about each of the 500 buttons, toggles, and switches used to operate the spacecraft. The actors then traveled to Johnson Space Center in Houston where they flew in the KC-135 to simulate weightlessness in outer space.
Each member of the cast performed extensive research for the project to provide an authentic story. Technical adviser Scott was impressed with their efforts, stating that each actor was determined to make every scene technically correct, word for word.
In Los Angeles, Ed Harris and all the actors portraying flight controllers enrolled in a Flight Controller School led by Gerry Griffin, an Apollo 13 flight director, and flight controller Jerry Bostick. The actors studied audiotapes from the mission, reviewed hundreds of pages of NASA transcripts, and attended a crash course in physics.
Reportedly, Pete Conrad expressed interest in appearing in the film.
For actors, being able to actually shoot in zero gravity as opposed to being in incredibly painful and uncomfortable harnesses for special effects shots was all the difference between what would have been a horrible moviemaking experience as opposed to the completely glorious one that it actually was.
Principal photography for Apollo 13 started in August 1994. Howard anticipated difficulty in portraying weightlessness in a realistic manner. He discussed this with Steven Spielberg, who suggested filming aboard the KC-135 airplane, which can be flown in such a way as to create about 23 seconds of weightlessness, a method NASA has always used to train its astronauts for space flight. Howard obtained NASA's permission and assistance to obtain three hours and 54 minutes of filming time in 612 zero-g maneuvers. Filming in this environment was a time and cost saver because the stage recreation and computer graphics would have been expensive.
While filming in a 25-second burst of weightlessness was "charged and frenetic", the cast and crew only suffered from bumps and bruises and most injuries occurred when they bumped on non-padded items. The cast and crew of Apollo 13 describe the weightlessness experience as being in a "vomit comet" and "roller coaster ride", but the motion sickness afflicted only a few members.
The visual effects supervisor was Robert Legato. To avoid awkward visible switches to stock news footage in a live action film, he decided to produce the Saturn V launch sequence using miniature models and digital image stitching to create a panoramic background. On Howard's request to "shoot it like Martin Scorsese would shoot it", Legato studied Scorsese's scenes of pool games from The Color of Money, and copied his technique of creating a sense of rhythm by repeating two or three frames between each cut (just enough to be undetectable) for the engine ignition sequence. Legato says this scene inspired James Horner's soundtrack music for the launch. The long-range shot of the vehicle in flight was filmed using a $25 1:144 scale model Revell kit, with the camera realistically shaking, and it was digitized and re-filmed off of a high resolution monitor through a black filter, slightly overexposed to keep it from "looking like a video game".
The exhaust of the attitude control thrusters was generated with computer-generated imagery (CGI). This was also attempted to show the astronaut's urine dump into space, but wasn't high enough resolution to look right, so droplets sprayed from an Evian bottle were photographed instead.
The producers wanted to use CGI to render the splashdown, but Legato adamantly insisted this would not look realistic. Real parachutes were used with a prop capsule tossed out of a helicopter.
Main article: Apollo 13 (soundtrack)
The score to Apollo 13 was composed and conducted by James Horner. The soundtrack was released in 1995 by MCA Records and has seven tracks of score, eight period songs used in the film, and seven tracks of dialogue by the actors at a running time of nearly seventy-eight minutes. The music also features solos by vocalist Annie Lennox and Tim Morrison on the trumpet. The score was a critical success and garnered Horner an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Score.
Apollo 13 was released on June 30, 1995, in North America and on September 22, 1995, in the UK.
In September 2002, the film was re-released in IMAX. It was the first film to be digitally remastered using IMAX DMR technology.
Apollo 13 earned $25,353,380 from 2,347 theaters during its opening weekend, which made up 14.7% of the total US gross. Upon its opening, it was ranked number one at the box office, beating Pocahontas. Additionally, it surpassed Forrest Gump for having the largest opening weekend for a Tom Hanks film. Within five days, Apollo 13 generated $38.5 million, becoming the second-highest five-day opening of all time, behind Terminator 2: Judgment Day. The film earned $154 million from ticket sales, surpassing the previous record held by the combined Thanksgiving 1992 openings of Aladdin, The Bodyguard and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. It would continue to stay in the number one spot for four weeks until it was dethroned by Waterworld. Earning $355,237,933, Apollo 13 was the third-highest-grossing film of 1995, behind Die Hard with a Vengeance and Toy Story.
|Source||Gross (US$)||% Total||All-time rank (unadjusted)|
Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that the film has an overall approval rating of 96%, based on 96 reviews, with a weighted average rating of 8.20/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "In recreating the troubled space mission, Apollo 13 pulls no punches: it's a masterfully told drama from director Ron Howard, bolstered by an ensemble of solid performances." Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating to reviews from mainstream critics, gave the film an average score of 77 out of 100, based on 22 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade "A" on scale of A+ to F.
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times praised the film in his review saying: "This is a powerful story, one of the year's best films, told with great clarity and remarkable technical detail, and acted without pumped-up histrionics." Richard Corliss of Time highly praised the film, saying: "From lift-off to splashdown, Apollo 13 gives one hell of a ride." Edward Guthmann of San Francisco Chronicle gave a mixed review and wrote: "I just wish that Apollo 13 worked better as a movie, and that Howard's threshold for corn, mush and twinkly sentiment weren't so darn wide." Peter Travers of Rolling Stone praised the film and wrote: "Howard lays off the manipulation to tell the true story of the near-fatal 1970 Apollo 13 mission in painstaking and lively detail. It's easily Howard's best film."
Janet Maslin made the film an NYT Critics' Pick, calling it an "absolutely thrilling" film that "unfolds with perfect immediacy, drawing viewers into the nail-biting suspense of a spellbinding true story." According to Maslin, "like Quiz Show, Apollo 13 beautifully evokes recent history in ways that resonate strongly today. Cleverly nostalgic in its visual style (Rita Ryack's costumes are especially right), it harks back to movie making without phony heroics and to the strong spirit of community that enveloped the astronauts and their families. Amazingly, this film manages to seem refreshingly honest while still conforming to the three-act dramatic format of a standard Hollywood hit. It is far and away the best thing Mr. Howard has done (and Far and Away was one of the other kind)."
The academic critic Raymond Malewitz focuses on the DIY aspects of the "mailbox" filtration system to illustrate the emergence of an unlikely hero in late 20th-century American culture—"the creative, improvisational, but restrained thinker—who replaces the older prodigal cowboy heroes of American mythology and provides the country a better, more frugal example of an appropriate 'husband'."
Marilyn Lovell praised Quinlan's portrayal of her, stating she felt she could feel what Quinlan's character was going through, and remembered how she felt in her mind.
Apollo 13 was released on VHS on November 21, 1995 and on LaserDisc the following week. On September 9, 1997, the film debuted on a THX certified widescreen VHS release.
A 10th-anniversary DVD of the film was released in 2005; it included both the original theatrical version and the IMAX version, along with several extras. The IMAX version has a 1.66:1 aspect ratio.
In 2006, Apollo 13 was released on HD DVD and on April 13, 2010, it was released on Blu-ray as the 15th-anniversary edition on the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 13 accident. The Film was released on 4K UHD Blu-Ray on October 17, 2017.
|1996||Academy Awards||Best Picture||Brian Grazer (lost to Braveheart)||Nominated|||
|Best Actor in a Supporting Role||Ed Harris (lost to Kevin Spacey in The Usual Suspects)||Nominated|
|Best Actress in a Supporting Role||Kathleen Quinlan (lost to Mira Sorvino in Mighty Aphrodite)||Nominated|
|Best Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published||William Broyles Jr. and Al Reinert (lost to Sense and Sensibility)||Nominated|
|Best Art Direction||Art Direction: Michael Corenblith; Set Decoration: Merideth Boswell (lost to Restoration)||Nominated|
|Best Film Editing||Mike Hill and Daniel Hanley||Won|
|Best Original Dramatic Score||James Horner (lost to Il Postino)||Nominated|
|Best Sound||Rick Dior, Steve Pederson, Scott Millan and David MacMillan||Won|
|Best Visual Effects||Robert Legato, Michael Kanfer, Leslie Ekker and Matt Sweeney (lost to Babe)||Nominated|
|American Cinema Editors (Eddies)||Best Edited Feature Film||Mike Hill, Daniel P. Hanley||Nominated|
|American Society of Cinematographers||Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Theatrical Releases||Dean Cundey||Nominated|
|BAFTA Film Awards||Best Production Design||Michael Corenblith||Won|
|Outstanding Achievement in Special Visual Effects||Robert Legato, Michael Kanfer, Matt Sweeney, Leslie Ekker||Won|
|Best Cinematography||Dean Cundey||Nominated|
|Best Editing||Mike Hill, Daniel Hanley||Nominated|
|Best Sound||David MacMillan, Rick Dior, Scott Millan, Steve Pederson||Nominated|
|Casting Society of America (Artios)||Best Casting for Feature Film, Drama||Jane Jenkins, Janet Hirshenson||Nominated|
|Chicago Film Critics Association Awards||Best Picture||Apollo 13||Won|
|Directors Guild of America||Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures||Ron Howard, Carl Clifford, Aldric La'Auli Porter, Jane Paul||Won|
|Golden Globe Awards||Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture||Ed Harris as Gene Kranz||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture||Kathleen Quinlan as Marilyn Lovell||Nominated|
|Best Director – Motion Picture||Ron Howard||Nominated|
|Best Motion Picture – Drama||Apollo 13||Nominated|
|Heartland Film Festival||Studio Crystal Heart Award||Jeffrey Kluger||Won|
|Hugo Awards||Best Dramatic Presentation||Apollo 13||Nominated|
|MTV Movie Awards||Best Male Performance||Tom Hanks as Jim Lovell||Nominated|
|Best Movie||Apollo 13||Nominated|
|PGA Awards||Motion Picture Producer of the Year Award||Brian Grazer, Todd Hallowell||Won|
|Saturn Awards||Best Action / Adventure / Thriller Film||Apollo 13 (lost to The Usual Suspects)||Nominated|
|Screen Actors Guild Awards||Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role||Ed Harris as Gene Kranz||Won|||
|Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture||Kevin Bacon, Tom Hanks, Ed Harris, Bill Paxton, Kathleen Quinlan, and Gary Sinise||Won|
|Space Foundation's Douglas S. Morrow Public Outreach Award||Best Family Feature – Drama||Apollo 13||Won|||
|Writers Guild of America Awards||Best Screenplay Adapted from Another Medium||William Broyles Jr., Al Reinert||Nominated|
|Young Artist Awards||Best Family Feature – Drama||Apollo 13||Nominated|
|2005||American Film Institute||AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes||"Houston, we have a problem." (#50)||Won|||
|2006||American Film Institute||AFI's 100 Years... 100 Cheers||Apollo 13 (#12)||Won|||
Further information on the Apollo 13 flight: Apollo 13
In the film, Lovell tells his wife he was given command of Apollo 13 instead of 14 because original commander Alan Shepard's "ear infection is flaring up again"; in fact, Shepard had no "ear infection"; he had been grounded since 1963 by Ménière's disease. This was surgically corrected four years later and he was returned to flight duty in May of 1969; Manned Spacecraft Center management felt he needed more training time for a lunar mission.
The film portrays the Saturn V launch vehicle being rolled out to the launch pad two days before launch. In reality, the launch vehicle was rolled out on the Mobile Launcher using the crawler-transporter two months before the launch date.
The film depicts the crew hearing a bang quickly after Swigert followed directions from mission control to stir the oxygen and hydrogen tanks. In reality, the crew heard the bang 95 seconds later.
The film depicts Sy Liebergot suggesting that the oxygen leak was in one or two of Odyssey's fuel cells, and the order to shut them down was passed up to the crew, forcing abort of the lunar landing mission. In reality, Mission Control did not order the shutdown; Haise found the cells were already dead, because of starvation due to the damage to the oxygen system.
The film depicts Swigert and Haise arguing about who was at fault. The show The Real Story: Apollo 13 broadcast on the Smithsonian Channel includes Haise stating that no such argument took place and that there was no way anyone could have foreseen that stirring the tank would cause problems. Similarly on the BBC 13 Minutes to the Moon program, backup lunar module pilot on the mission Charles Duke says the film portrayed Swigert as unprepared for the flight, but it was untrue and that Swigert was very familiar with the module as he had also long worked on developing it.
The dialogue between ground control and the astronauts was taken nearly verbatim from transcripts and recordings, with the exception of one of the taglines of the film, "Houston, we have a problem." (This quote was voted #50 on the list "AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes".) According to audio of the air-to-ground communications, the actual words uttered by Swigert were "Okay, Houston, we've had a problem here". Ground control responded by saying, "This is Houston. Say again, please." Jim Lovell then repeated, "Houston, we've had a problem."
One other incorrect dialogue is after the re-entry blackout. In the film, Tom Hanks (as Lovell) says "Hello Houston... this is Odyssey... it's good to see you again." In the actual re-entry, the Command Module's transmission was finally acquired by a Sikorsky SH-3D Sea King recovery helicopter which then relayed communications to Mission Control. CAPCOM astronaut Joe Kerwin (not Mattingly, who serves as CAPCOM in this scene in the film) then made a call to the spacecraft "Odyssey, Houston standing by. Over." Swigert, not Lovell, replied "Okay, Joe," and unlike the film, this was well before the parachutes deployed; the celebrations depicted at Mission Control were triggered by visual confirmation of their deployment.
The tagline "Failure is not an option", stated in the film by Gene Kranz, also became very popular, but was not taken from the historical transcripts. The following story relates the origin of the phrase, from an e-mail by Apollo 13 Flight Dynamics Officer Jerry Bostick:
As far as the expression "Failure is not an option," you are correct that Kranz never used that term. In preparation for the movie, the script writers, Al Reinart and Bill Broyles, came down to Clear Lake to interview me on "What are the people in Mission Control really like?" One of their questions was "Weren't there times when everybody, or at least a few people, just panicked?" My answer was "No, when bad things happened, we just calmly laid out all the options, and failure was not one of them. We never panicked, and we never gave up on finding a solution." I immediately sensed that Bill Broyles wanted to leave and assumed that he was bored with the interview. Only months later did I learn that when they got in their car to leave, he started screaming, "That's it! That's the tag line for the whole movie, Failure is not an option. Now we just have to figure out who to have say it." Of course, they gave it to the Kranz character, and the rest is history.
In the film, Flight Director Gene Kranz and his White Team are portrayed as managing all of the essential parts of the flight, from liftoff to landing. Consequently, the actual role of the other flight directors and teams, especially Glynn Lunney and his Black Team, were neglected. In fact, it was Flight Director Lunney and his Black Team who got Apollo 13 through its most critical period in the hours immediately after the explosion, including the mid-course correction that sent Apollo 13 on a "free return" trajectory around the Moon and back to the Earth. Astronaut Ken Mattingly, who was replaced as Apollo 13 Command Module Pilot at the last minute by Swigert, later said:
If there was a hero, Glynn Lunney was, by himself, a hero, because when he walked in the room, I guarantee you, nobody knew what the hell was going on. Glynn walked in, took over this mess, and he just brought calm to the situation. I've never seen such an extraordinary example of leadership in my entire career. Absolutely magnificent. No general or admiral in wartime could ever be more magnificent than Glynn was that night. He and he alone brought all of the scared people together. And you've got to remember that the flight controllers in those days were—they were kids in their thirties. They were good, but very few of them had ever run into these kinds of choices in life, and they weren't used to that. All of a sudden, their confidence had been shaken. They were faced with things that they didn't understand, and Glynn walked in there, and he just kind of took charge.
A DVD commentary track, recorded by Jim and Marilyn Lovell and included with the Signature Laserdisc and later included on both DVD versions, mentions several inaccuracies included in the film, all done for reasons of artistic license:
We were working and watching the controls during that time. Because we came in shallow, it took us longer coming through the atmosphere where we had ionization. And the other thing was that we were just slow in answering.
—Jim Lovell, on the real reason for the delay in replying after Apollo 13's four-minute re-entry into Earth's atmosphere
This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.