Ron Howard. director of Apollo l3, takes up the theme: ‘One of the things that‘s happening with movies is that the whole possibilities for storytellers is broadening. so that in the same year that there can be an unusual heroic movie like Apollo I}. there can be a very traditional one like a Die Hard movie. There‘s a kind of movie for everyone now. I love that as a fan; I really appreciate it and have come to rely upon it as a storyteller.‘
That‘s certainly true. and while Bruce Willis can look smug as his latest vehicle storms the box office charts. so can Hanks. with Apollo [3
‘People want heroes, pure and simple. They want them to be genuine and they want to be reached on some deep emotional level that goes beyond, I think, the cop who can’t be killed.’
proving Stateside to be more than a match for the pyrotechnics and effects of the cartoonish summer blockbusters. It‘s just that it‘s Apollo l3 I’m-rest Camp, (’1 a/ that are being swooped up in the American Right‘s current crusade. with an equivalent sector of Hollywood throwing aside healthy cynicism and embracing the somewhat repressive values of Middle America. This is one recipe for apple pie that you‘ve got to follow to the letter.
Which is all being a little unfair to llanks as a person. Face to face. he‘s good-natured and jokey. and his eyes sparkle when he reveals that playing an astronaut was a childhood dream. ‘l’m a space a/it'z'onado.‘ he admits. ‘not a space junkie. A spacejunkie actually has access to the drug itself. which I do not. I‘m a lay scholar in the space programme.‘ So how would he feel about donning a spacesuit for real‘.’ ‘Well. it‘s not a serious hypothetical circumstance. But. if they said. “You know. 'l‘om. it‘d be really beneficial if we sent a movie star tip into outer space and we‘d like it to be you“. well. l‘djump at the chance. I‘d get to enter a very select club. Very few people have had to look down on the Earth from a couple of hundred miles. I‘d do it. I’d have to take a pay cut. though.‘
As a thirteen-year-old in Concord. California. he remembers watching the ABC television newsflash that informed America that the capsule in which three astronauts were currently travelling above the Earth had suffered unknown damage. ‘I didn‘t have a grasp of orbital mechanics back then.‘ he recalls. ‘but I knew that. should this crew die. it was going to mean that there would be three dead. lifeless corpses orbiting around the moon and the sun and the earth for the rest of existence. And I thought. quite specifically. this is going to be as bad a thing for America as the Kennedy assassination.‘
TOM HANKS FEATURE
Box office champion and two-times Oscar winner, Tom Hanks is Hollywood’s golden boy, loved by critics and public alike.
In Apollo 13, he pushes the comedy aside and plays the commander of a stricken space craft. Alan Morrison meets an unlikely breed of hero.
In the film. l'lanks. as .litn Lovell. is accompanied by two fellow astronauts (Kevin Bacon and Bill Paxton) on a nerve-shredding flight back home. Oxygen levels are dropping. it‘s not known ifthe shields will burn out during re-entry. and one catastrophe follows another. The script overplays the ‘unlucky thirteen‘ superstitions in the build-up to the launch. but once the pressure is on. it‘s down to intelligence and cool-headedncss — rather than muscle power — to win the day. The photography is impressive (particularly the blast-off sequence. which really gets the audience close to the itnmense power involved). with strong contrasts drawn between the expanse of space and the close confines of the capsule. The acting is also uniformly excellent. begging the inevitable question: will Hanks enter the history books as the first man to win the Best Actor ()scar three years in succession‘.’ If the Academy behaves true to style. he won‘t. as llanks here gives a far better. tnore wide- ranging performance than the monotone of Camp or the sickness mannerisms of Philadelphia.
‘I think in all honesty. the movie could warrant attention at the end of the year in the trophy run.‘ he reckons. ‘Kathleen thtinlin. who plays Mrs Lovelll. Ron. the screenwriters. Dean (‘undey [the cinematographerl. [Ed [Harris]. maybe (.iat'y [Siniscl — they could all be up for the trophies. But ljust don‘t think it‘s a Best Actor kind of movie in the first place. l‘tn very proud. I think I did a great job. But it just doesn‘t warrant it. lfl should be nominated.
I‘d be shocked. And if I should win . . . there would be suicide jumpers from the third tier of the Capitol Records building in Hollywood. 'l‘hey‘d be screaming. “Not again! Not again! Not — Bam!‘
Apollo 13 opens on Friday 22 September:
Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump
‘ 'Q'.‘ . j .-<' if," fwd- A ‘ﬂ ‘9'
and in Philadelphia.
The List 22 Sept-5 Oct 1995 9