Apollo 13: cutting-edge training for the stars of Ron Howard’s film

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Apollo 13
Universal

Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon and Bill Paxton go into space on Sunday on 6ter.

This weekend, the mission Apollo 13 takes off on channel 22. Spend the evening in space with Ron Howard, which adapts for the occasion the book Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13 co-authored by James Lovell (astronaut who commanded the Apollo 13 mission in 1970) and by journalist Jeffrey Kruger. A detailed account of the incidents that led to the premature end of the space program, but also of the decisions that allowed the crew of Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise, Lost Moon came to life on the big screen in 1995 as a docu-drama returning, in a fictionalized way, to the crazy story of Apollo 13. Carried by a five-star cast (Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise, Ed Harris), Apollo 13 was a big theatrical success, exceeding two million admissions in France and ultimately collecting more than 350 million dollars in revenue.

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Nominated for nine Oscars, Apollo 13 is best remembered for popularizing the replica “Houston, we have a problem” (“Houston, we have a problem“). A line spoken by Tom Hanks on screen and which is actually a distortion of the real spoken line Jack Swigert who said, according to the verbatim, “We’ve had a problem“Despite this small leap of freedom that has become iconic, Apollo 13 aimed to be the most faithful and precise reconstruction possible of the events of the mission, which led the actors of the film to follow the most demanding and rigorous training possible to stick to the reality of the progress of the mission. From the beginning of pre-production, Ron Howard indeed takes the party not to include any archive shot in the film and that everything that passes on the screen will therefore have to be a reconstruction. To do this, he gradually reconstructs all the elements of the Apollo 13 mission down to the last detail according to the archives of the time. The mission command module and the lunar module are thus reconstituted in two modular copies allowing certain parts to be detached to film in better conditions. And the NASA command center is completely recreated in the studio after the filmmaker refused the proposal of NASA, which had invited the team to film in their premises. A film set so realistic that one day, a NASA operator made the mistake of leaving it, thinking he was going to take the elevator he used to take in the real premises.

The actors were also entitled to their special training program and period equipment. Their suits were almost in every way the same as those of the American astronauts in 1970, including in their ventilation system which forced the technicians to have to pump the air inside the suits once installed on the actors to prevent them from blowing. ‘to choke. To prepare for their roles, Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon and Bill Paxton spent several weeks undergoing the same physical training as Jim Lovell, but also the same simulation exercises for controlling the modules. In the end, they had to be perfectly capable of maneuvering all the shuttles and vehicles in the film, having to memorize more than 500 buttons, levers and other on-board controls. They were also trained in zero gravity flight through special KC-135 aircraft used by NASA, which simulate the zero gravity situation by sudden changes in altitude for a period of 25 seconds. first, but the actors were filmed by the teams of Ron Howard during its sequences of weightlessness, rather than during reconstitutions in trays. In total, there were 612 repeated parables, which together offered almost four hours of actionable content on screen. A technical prodigy which enabled a considerable saving of time during filming, as can be seen in particular (from 6:05) in The Lost Moon, making of the film present on the DVD editions of Apollo 13, which greatly contributed to the quality of this Apollo 13, which knew how to put its mark on the genre of space films.

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