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Apollo 13 10th Anniversary DVD release

"The Moon is essentially gray, no color. It looks like plaster of Paris, like dirty beach sand with lots of footprints in it.”
Captain Jim Lovell, former NASA astronaut

In 1970, the country shared a rare moment of unity as they watched television images of a shattered space capsule fighting its way back to Earth. Captain Jim Lovell of the space shuttle Apollo 13 recorded his harrowing adventure in a book, Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13, which captured the detailed experiences of this true American space cowboy. Twenty-five years later, these moments came alive again for an entire new generation in the Ron Howard-directed film, Apollo 13, starring Tom Hanks as Captain Lovell, along with Bill Paxton, Kevin Bacon, Gary Sinise, Ed Harris, and Kathleen Quinlan. An instant audience favorite and box office success, the film rocketed to Academy Award nominations for best film (it lost to Braveheart), best supporting actor (Harris) and actress (Quinlan), and snatched the statue for best film editing and sound mixing.

Another decade has passed, and Apollo 13 is re-discovering its role as a depiction of American history with the release of the 10th Anniversary Edition DVD. At a recent “re-launch” event, simultaneous IMAX screenings of the film took place at the California Science Center and the Kennedy Space Center. Following the screenings was a live satellite question and answer session with Tom Hanks and producer Brian Grazer in Los Angeles, and Ron Howard and Captain Jim Lovell in Cape Canaveral, moderated by renowned film historian/critic/all-around expert, Leonard Maltin.

The two-disc set includes both the original theatrical release and the IMAX experience version, along with a “making of” featurette entitled, “Lost Moon: The Triumph of Apollo 13,” and two never-before-seen bonus extras: “Lucky 13: The Astronaut’s Story,” which recounts the actual events of the disaster, and “Conquering Space: The Moon and Beyond,” which explores the past 45 years of the space program. Feature commentary is available from Ron Howard, as well as from Jim and Marilyn Lovell. “I think we now are the repository of everything there is to know about Apollo 13,” laughs Hanks.

For Lovell, the man who immortalized the phrase, “Houston, we have a problem,” revisiting this experience is as vividly powerful as ever. “[Tom] Hanks was a space enthusiast, a closet astronaut… he did superb job. He managed to capture the emotions and everything that was so important to bring that story across.”

The whole experience of revisiting Apollo 13 is a bit “déjà vu-ey,” according to Quinlan, and it is reminiscent of original release when the film surpassed all expectations. “I think it’s still resonates way that it did when it first came out,” says Hanks. “[Audiences] know that those three guys are alive, that they made it home, but still the details of it are gripping.” Grazer, who is working with Hanks and Howard again on the upcoming Da Vinci Code, admits, “We didn’t actually expect that people in 1995 would have the interest that they did… But I guess people are very interested in the human experience.”

Howard (who actually looks like he’s getting younger) agrees that, even with all its cinematic bells and whistles, Apollo 13 is more than just another sensationalist movie. “The story works on a number of levels: On the one hand, it’s this authentic recreation of an extraordinary event. On the other hand, it’s a classic story of trying to get home, trying to find your way home.” Still, he is pleased that this was one of his career-defining moments, including the fact that some of the shuttle scenes were actually filmed at zero gravity: “We had to pass a physical and written test, and jump through a lot of hoops to do it… We got clearance to do something that no other film had done,” he says. With this groundbreaking accomplishment, along with a stunning scene of the shuttle’s takeoff (“We were able to give it a little cinematic flourish… I’m very proud of that sequence”) Apollo 13 went, well, where no film had gone before. The 10-year anniversary DVD release is an exhilarating blend of accurate historical detail and emotional human drama that is a treat for film buffs, history geeks, and space freaks alike.

The two-disc Apollo 13 Anniversary Edition DVD is available from Universal Studios Home Entertainment. $22.98. Running time 2 hours and 20 minutes feature, 1 hour and 56 minutes IMAX version

Read DVD Talk's Review of Apollo 13 - 10th Anniversary Edition

- Sarika Chawla

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