Archive for the ‘Movie Clip of the Week’ Category

Once upon a time there was an era when America dreamt dreams so inspired – that our nation’s vision had the power to propel humankind across outer space to a celestial world that had been beckoning poets, mystics, songwriters, travelers and dreamers since the dawn of our existence.   Our spirits collectively soared together with intrepid astronauts as we accompanied them on the precarious journeys taken to the moon’s surface and back.  More than forty years ago, when I was a young boy, I witnessed along with the rest of the earth (my imagination wholly electrified)  the grainy, black and white TV image of Neil Armstrong descending on the lunar surface and uttering the immortal words:  “That’s one small step for man… One giant leap for mankind.”

Armstrong’s walk on the moon constituted the fifth manned mission of the Apollo space program.   If nothing else, Apollo 11 will always be remembered as the first space mission that landed humankind on another world.  By the time the Apollo 13 mission was to be launched, America had already experienced six successful Apollo missions, with three that had orbited the moon, and two that had successfully landed there.  Apollo 13 was slated to be the third manned landing on the lunar surface.

Believe it or not – by the time Apollo 13 was launched – we had become somewhat blasé about our manned space program.  There was a sense of “been there, done that.”   America was already taking these monumental accomplishments for granted;  but not for lack of interest in ongoing exploration.  Rather (from the perspective of one who viewed the era through the eyes of a child, whose imagination was completely a-glow with any and all possibilities),  I remember it as an era when we were absolutely confident in our achievements, and we knew that nothing was out of reach.  In fact for so many – the vision was that by the time we hit the year 2000, we’d have colonies on the moon and Mars, and perhaps even had established contact with extraterrestrial intelligence. Everything was possible.  Period.  And perhaps no other movie captured the idealism of that era better than director, Ron Howard’s Apollo 13.

And along with that idealism, there was an unquestioning faith in the unprecedented technological achievements of that time, which was also accompanied by a kind of naivete to the extreme dangers inherent in these missions.  If you stop to think about it – how many of us would feel safe today driving the freeways in a new 1970 model car?.  (We’re talking just seatbelts, no airbags, no antilock brakes, etc.)  Well, now imagine crossing the vastness of space in a capsule designed with technology that was also wholly primitive by today’s standards… Your average smart phone has on a scale thousands of times more power and memory than all the guidance computers aboard the Apollo command and lunar modules combined!  Looking back now it was no small miracle landing a man on the moon.  And yet, Americans were among the last to know it.  We had that much confidence and pride in our space program. And with such pride, ultimately a fall is the price paid.  The tragic fiery deaths of three astronauts aboard Apollo 1 during a launch rehearsal represented the first such fall.  Apollo 13 became the second, with repercussions that threatened to be as potentially tragic.

The astronauts aboard Apollo 13 were Mission Commander, James Lovell (played by Tom Hanks),  Command Module pilot, Jack Swigirt (played by Kevin Bacon) and Lunar Module pilot, Fred Haise (played by Bill Paxton).  Two days after the launch of Apollo 13 an oxygen tank exploded, crippling the service module, which provided both power and air to the central command module.

(Note:  An Apollo mission consisted of three primary spacecraft modules – the service, command and lunar module. The lunar module was designed to separate from the service and command modules.  It’s the piece of the Apollo spacecraft that ferries two astronauts to the surface of the moon and back.  At the end of the mission it’s only the command module that remains and returns to earth with the three astronauts aboard.  )

When the service module was no longer able to sustain life aboard the Apollo spacecraft, the Apollo 13 Lunar Module, named The Aquarius, was improvised as the first “life raft” in space.  All hope of landing on the moon was abandoned, and Apollo 13’s new mission was to return the astronauts safely to earth against seemingly insurmountable odds. The situation was as dire as anyone could possibly imagine… In fact, no one had imagined the kind of emergency scenario the crew of Apollo 13 confronted.  Certainly, the astronauts had rehearsed again and again for all conceivable potential eventualities, but this kind of tragedy went beyond any previous preparation.   But no one was ready to give up.

The classic quote by Mission Control Flight Director Gene Kranz (played by Ed Harris), “Failure is not an option.” has become a widely recited meme in our culture.   Kranz spoke not just for himself, but for the indomitable spirit of that era.  His strength of character and leadership also represented the best of the idealism, courage and vision that characterized the American space program of the 1960’s and early 1970’s. Once the press and the world realized that the lives of the three astronauts aboard Apollo 13 were in grave danger, resting on the precipice of what technology could do and couldn’t do, the mission dominated newspaper headlines, television and radio news. The hopes and dreams of not just the United States, but the entire planet now rode along with the beleaguered astronauts.

The clip I’ve chosen takes place right after the astronauts have participated in a live television broadcast, which unknown to them was not being carried by any major network, because of the fallen lack of interest in the moon missions.   Following this aborted broadcast,  Mission Control then instructed the Apollo 13 crew to go though a routine set of technical “housekeeping” adjustments.  It was then that  they experienced the violent detonation of an oxygen tank that blows a near-fatal hole in the service module… For the first time the United States faced the real fear of astronauts dying in the middle of space forever suspended between the earth and the moon.

The Apollo 13 story arch creates what is among the most inspirational movies an audience has ever had the privilege to view.  Few motion pictures have the conscious intent to elevate humanity in the manner achieved by Ron Howard in Apollo 13.  This is one film, if you haven’t seen, you MUST SEE before you die.  Put it on your own cinema bucket list.   Apollo 13 is a life affirming experience that will forever make you both appreciate our place in the universe; as well as contemplate that indefinable, divine drive to lift ourselves above this world – despite the tremendous likelihood of death – while summoning a transcendent courage to reach out and explore the ocean of space, whose tides carry the very stardust of our collective origin.

© – David Christopher Loya – Bojorquez
http://www.imdb.me/consciousfilmmaker

The motion picture, “Apollo 13”, is the copyright of its respective owners and its images and clips are used here for informational purposes only.

Note:  ANY advertising placed on any of these blog pages is not controlled by the author; nor does it necessarily reflect his opinion or ethos.  

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Definition of a “Conscious Filmmaker”
An artist with the aware intent to create motion pictures imbued with an enlightened purpose.  

Juno is a little gem of a movie.  This is a recent classic – hitting the theaters during the 2007 holiday season.  No other film has ever dealt with the subject of teenage pregnancy in such a comical, refreshingly authentic and poignant, life-affirming manner.

Legendary movie critic, Roger Ebert, describes the motion picture as follows:  “I don’t know when I’ve heard a standing ovation so long, loud and warm as the one after Jason Reitman’s Juno, which I predict will become quickly beloved when it opens at Christmas time, and win a best actress nomination for its 20- year old star, Ellen Page. It’s the kind of movie you almost insult by describing the plot, because the plot sounds standard and this is a fresh, quirky, unusually intelligent comedy about a 16-year-old girl who wins our hearts in the first scene. Page plays Juno, who gets pregnant, and–no, that’s not it at all. Every element in the movie including her getting pregnant, and her non-boyfriend, and her parents, and the couple that wants to take the baby for adoption, is completely unlike any version of those characters I have ever seen before. And the dialogue is so quick and funny you feel the actors are performing it on a high-wire. It was so much fun to sit with a huge audience that laughed not just in good humor, but in appreciation and sympathy. Her boyfriend, played by Michael Cera, is so clueless that Juno translates that as “not being like everyone else.” Her father and stepmother, the superb character actors J. K. Simmons and Allison Janney, are older, wiser and funnier than a teenager’s parents are ever allowed to be. The hopeful adoptive couple (Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman) are the opposite of what you’d expect, and then turn out to be the opposite of that. And the whole story is textured within a school year that focuses the growing-up that Juno has to do.”

Juno is an especially conscious film because it raises our awareness of the sheer burden and vulnerability of a teenage girl, who courageously fulfills a personal commitment to carry her pregnancy to full term – even as she encounters unexpected and even tragic developments with the couple who had arranged to adopt her baby.  Yet, in the midst of understandable angst and anxiety on her part, she still maintains strength, poise and an indomitable wit. The acting is absolutely dead on authentic, and the direction by Jason Reitman is fresh and vibrant.  After viewing Juno you can’t leave that movie without feeling great about life.

The scene I chose (see link below) takes place right after Juno tells her parents she’s pregnant, and she continues to explain her plans to them.  At age sixteen, Juno has it all figured out.  She’s not going to terminate her pregnancy… And she and her best friend found a suitable adoptive couple in of all places – The Pennysaver!   Enjoy.

© – David Christopher Loya – Bojorquez
http://www.imdb.me/consciousfilmmaker

“Juno” is copyrighted by its respective owners and used here for informational purposes only.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE CLIP

Note:  ANY advertising placed on any of these blog pages is not controlled by the author; nor does it necessarily reflect his opinion or ethos.  

Definition of a “Conscious Filmmaker”
An artist with the aware intent to create motion pictures imbued with an enlightened purpose.  

SPOILER ALERT!  IF YOU HAVE NEVER SEEN E.T.:  THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL, I IMPLORE YOU TO VIEW IT FIRST BEFORE READING THE FOLLOWING.  IF YOU CHOOSE TO CONTINUE READING, YOU WILL SEVERELY COMPROMISE A ONCE IN A LIFETIME EXPERIENCE.

Because I am often asked what constitutes a Conscious Filmmaker and what are examples of great films that meet such criteria, I decided to start a new feature.  I call it the “Conscious Filmmaker” Classic Movie Clip of the Week.

I will begin our first week with one of the greatest, most beloved films made in the last generation, Steven Spielberg’s E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial.  It is truly one of my top ten favorite motion pictures.

The scene I chose to demonstrate is not the first one that comes to mind when this movie is discussed.  Typically, most people’s minds jump to the ending sequence, with Elliot and E.T. embracing, as the scene further builds with John Williams’ soaring orchestral score.  The genius of his music serves as an uncredited character within the film itself; and in the grand ending that theme almost seems to single-handedly propel E.T.’s spacecraft back to his starry home.

However, from a storyline perspective that classic finale could never have occurred without the scene below, which constitutes the great turning point in the film.   This foundational scene – that demonstrates the transformational theme of the power of love, connection and friendship, which leads to the “resurrection” of Elliot’s cosmic friend – will always remain timeless.  Few movies can awaken the inner child within us like E.T.

It is a miraculous piece of conscious cinematic storytelling.

© – David Christopher Loya – Bojorquez
http://www.imdb.me/consciousfilmmaker

E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial is the copyright of its respective owners and used here for informational purposes only.

Note:  ANY advertising placed on any of these blog pages is not controlled by the author; nor does it necessarily reflect his opinion or ethos.