And I think it’s gonna be a long long time…

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beep beep beep

On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched a 58 cm diameter polished metal sphere into low Earth orbit. Every 92 minutes the satellite made a complete circuit around the planet, causing a major stir in the government and amongst the people of the USA. It was visible to the naked eye due to reflected light from the sun and its four external radio antennae broadcast radio pulses that could be detected on the Earth below.

“On Friday, October 4, 1957, the Soviets had orbited the world’s first artificial satellite. Anyone who doubted its existence could walk into the backyard just after sunset and see it.”
—Mike Gray, ‘Angle of Attack’
Watching, from his home in Coalwood, West Virginia, was Homer Hickam, a coal miner’s son. The sight inspired him to study about rocketry and build a number of experimental rockets that he and his friends launched after school.
ImageThese experiences were the basis of his autobiographical novel, Rocket Boys, which was later made into the film, October Sky, starring Jake Gyllenhaal.
Tonight, over my son’s vehement objections, we watched October sky and within minutes he was mesmerized. He loved the idea of designing and building rockets that the boys launched themselves without any adult direction. We talked about this 4th of July, when we set off a number of fireworks in out yard (most of them rockets of one sort or another).
The story arc takes Homer from a smart, but perhaps directionless, kid living in a small coal town and follows him as he shapes his own story. At first he is just playing at rocketry, building small models lacking any real design, but eventually, through studying physics, chemistry  and math he learns the basics of thrust, propulsion and concocting a stable fuel.
Meanwhile, Homer’s father is a manager of the coal mine who struggles with falling production and the pressures of upper management to control costs while the workers threaten to strike over what we assume must be stagnant wages, layoffs and the persistent dangers inherent to the work.
Minor story arcs involve the growth of Homer’s relationships with his father, the girls in the town and his teacher at the high school. 
Overall, the pieces fit together very simply and predictably, but solid acting, excellent direction and cinematography add up to make it a fun, inspiring film that’s emotionally engaging for adults and provides enough successful and unsuccessful rocket launches to keep kids in rapture too.
I don’t think this is a great movie – it’s far too simple to be great, but the time flew by because we were all completely engaged from start to finish.
 
imdb gives this a 7.7 (the highest rating so far) ; rotten tomatoes gives it 90%
90% seems a bit high, but it does stand as the best film I’ve watched for this project so far;
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