Friday, April 17, 2009

The Right Stuff

The Right Stuff; Drama, USA, 1983; D: Philip Kaufman, S: Dennis Quaid, Sam Shepard, Scott Glenn, Fred Ward, Ed Harris, Barbara Hershey, Lance Henriksen, Kim Stanley, Veronica Cartwright, Kathy Baker, Jeff Goldblum

In '47, pilot Chuck Yeager becomes the first human who manages to break the sound barrier with his plane. In '53, the Russians send the first satellite into orbit, and soon afterwards even the first man, Gagarin. In order to not stay behind, the US government start their own space programme. The status of the astronauts is given to Gordon, Gus, Schirra, Slayton, Carpenter and John Glenn and Alan Shepard. Despite numerous difficulties, including unstable test rockets that constantly explode, they manage to go to outer space and come back alive.

Arguably the best film by Philip Kaufman, an incredibly smooth and even achievement looking from any angle, drama "The Right Stuff" eloquently handles the beginning of the "Space Age" in the US and managed to win 4 Oscars out of 8 nominations, while even earning a nomination for a Golden Globe for best picture - drama. Even though it's a very fine made movie, it starts to becomes slightly overstretched due to its 3 hours of running time, while the segment with the pilot Chuck Yeager is rather pointless, yet as a whole it's a wonderfully set up story where the best parts are humorous, like when the reporters are so desperate to get an interview with the families of the astronauts that they even storm their laundry washer or when Shepard is in the rocket and asks for the permission to urinate in his space suit because he can't "hold it anymore". Director Kaufman avoids any kind of patriotism and cynically shows the US government whose only goal is to be first in everything, while he even inserts a sly metaphor about grasping and achieving a human dream, even the impossible one. An excellent role was achieved by Dennis Quaid as Gordon (when a nurse orders him to bring him a sperm sample, he jokingly asks her to "help him"), but all other actors aren't weak by any means either, while the montage including Chubby Checker's song "La Bamba" is simply perfect.


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