THUMBS UP FILM REVIEW RATING!
Only having been four years old when the first lunar landing took place, I have no recollection about the excitement that surrounded this monumental achievement. So many men and women had dedicated their very lives to this one moment in time that it stopped the world (not just one nation) and allowed all of us the chance to see just how far human beings could go in their quest to reach that next horizon. And although THE DISH is about one backward country radio telescope in Parkes, Australia that beamed those first Armstrong-on-the-moon images to billions of people ...it is much more than that.
Cliff Buxton (Sam Neill, JURASSIC PARK) is the director of the Parkes telescope, a sensitive piece of hardware surrounded by sheep paddocks. Seeing such a large array (this telescope could actually deliver telemetry, track the lunar module, AND send back television images) in an austere landscape made me pause several times during the film and marvel at the sheer beauty of this monstrosity against the setting of Australia’s back country.
Initially the film takes on the feel of something homey; a gentle side-trip down a path we all know too well (the first manned mission to the moon.) These hick-like folk are in charge of something as important as the lunar landing?! But the viewer gets pulled into the film in a very intimate way. We see that these ARE simple people, but ones who take their jobs very seriously ...but not overly so. The comedy, like the movie itself, is light and sprinkled throughout the relationships (even when they lose Apollo 11 as they approach the moon and lie to NASA about it!)
I found myself getting choked-up as the world — and this little microcosm of people in Parkes — held their breath as those first pictures of man’s footprint on the moon took place (during hurricane force winds that threatened to blow over the telescope and kill the men inside operating it; they realized the importance of that moment and were willing to risk everything.)
If you’d like to take a trip down memory lane (ala 1969) but want a different road, THE DISH is a nice film to try out. Highly recommended.