Sunday, 25 September 2016
I've Just Seen: The Right Stuff (1983)
Director: Philip Kaufman
My first reaction after watching The Right Stuff was 'why is this film not more lauded?' It is a great story, its long running time immersing us in the early days of the American space program, and the effect of its fame on the astronauts involved. It also gives us Chuck Yeager, the man who broke the sound barrier, who, if he was anything like the portrayal in the film, was one of the coolest, bravest people to ever fly a plane (or even exist!).
The film is filled with great performances, and for a story that could potentially be all about the astronauts' work, pays a lot of attention to their private lives. This adds to the film's impact, developing the men as rounded people and amplifying the stakes - we sit nervously with their wives, waiting to hear if they have survived the mission.
While Kaufman's film is more about what happened on the ground than in space, the few scenes of space travel are still beautiful. John Glenn's orbiting of Earth, though perhaps not as jaw-dropping as Cuaron's Gravity, is a great moment in the film.
If you loved Ron Howard's Apollo 13, you will definitely appreciate this film. Though it has less nail-biting tension, it provides a fantastic background to other science-fiction films, giving us the story of where it all began.