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Film Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat


October Sky
Directed by Joe Johnston
Universal 02/99 DVD/VHS Feature Film

This wonderful movie takes off with a bang and soars upwards: it will lift your spirit and make you feel good about all those who pursue their dreams in the face of large obstacles. October Sky is directed by Joe Johnston and based on Homer H. Hickam Jr.'s memoir Rocket Boys. The drama is set during the late 1950s in the small West Virginia town of Coalwood.

Following the Soviet launch of the satellite named Sputnik, Homer Hickam (Jake Gyllenhaal), a mediocre high school student, is inspired to build a rocket. He begins a serious study of jet propulsion and rocket design but turns to Quentin (Chris Owen), a social pariah, to help him with mathematics. Two other friends join them in setting off a series of small rockets.

Homer's father John (Chris Cooper) is a supervisor at the coal mine that is the center of the town's economy. He expects his son to follow him into the mine and sees no value in the rocket project. But others are more supportive, including an enthusiastic teacher (Laura Dern), a black World War II veteran, and an immigrant welder at the mine. Eventually the rocket boys qualify for a science fair that guarantees winners college scholarships.

October Sky presents a rounded portrait of life in a small West Virginia town where the options available to most of the young men are very limited. Homer's grand rocket project gives wings to his dream of another life. The universality of this young man's quest resonates with our own yearning to find our true destiny.


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Reviews and database copyright 1970 2012
by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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