October Sky is the true story of Homer Hickam’s passion for rockets and determination not to end up in the coal mines like his father. Set in the 1950’s in Coalwood (a coal mining town) Homer Hickam (Jake Gyllenhaal) is inspired to build rockets by Sputnik 1 and his school teacher Miss Riley (Laura Dern).
With the hopes of winning the national science fair and being offered a science scholarship Homer and a group of his friends begin building rockets, the film shows their struggles with family, the police and money. Needless to say, they win the science fair and all graduated college, Homer Hickam ended up working for NASA.
This is an uplifting and inspirational story that tells us not to give up on our dreams no matter how out of reach they seem. The film really showed the community feel that I imagine Homer grew up in due to him growing up in the 50’s, you know the “everyone knows everyone” type of town.
Pre-Donnie Darko Jake Gyllenhaal gives a promising performance as Homer Hickam, although he clearly had a lot to learn as an actor you could tell from this early on that he was going places. It was clear that he understood human emotions and expressions on a high level. Laura Dern was great as the teacher who just wanted her students to succeed, she showed the perfect amount of emotion for the situations she was in.
All in all acting was of a high standard in this film, which is particularly important in films based on true stories because they are playing people who actually exist/existed.
Telling a true story in film form can be difficult because you have to alter details without making the story too unbelievable, October Sky remained believable and still maintained the entertaining quality films should have. There weren’t any unnecessary scenes as there often are in these types of films which means that it didn’t get boring at any point.
A really great thing that October Sky achieved was that the story didn’t focus on romance, it focussed on career. Ordinarily we would get the story that was told accompanied by a romance to bulk up the story and make the story more interesting, but October Sky stayed perfectly intriguing despite no romance being mentioned. Although romance was hinted the main character overlooked it.
Costume and makeup were fantastic in this film, there was a real feel of the 50’s that wasn’t overemphasised which was great. As the film was based in a coal mining town everyone who worked there was shown with a slight hint of dirt still on their face when they weren’t working presumably because it would be difficult to get it all off (like the smell of working in a fish and chip shop).
Setting was also fantastic, the car’s, buses, interior of the rooms and exterior of the building (including gardens) was very 50’sesque with out being “in your face” about it. At one point he visits a movie theatre and it is exactly like what you would find in the 50’s. Very good effort on this part.
To conclude this was a fantastic, inspiring and entertaining film which managed to entertain and tell a story without bulking the film up with unnecessary romance or scenes.