Sputnik fuels Amphitheatre flick

Aug 01, 2014
Jake Gyllenhaal stars in “October Sky,” based on the autobiography of NASA engineer Homer H. Hickam Jr.

Camden — The next movie in the free Monday Night Movies in the Park series is the PG-rated “October Sky” (1999, USA), which will be screened Aug. 11 beginning 8 p.m. in the Camden Amphitheatre, hosted by Camden Public Library with support from Allen Insurance & Financial.

The movie, which runs 108 minutes, is a good match for the Summer Reading Program theme of Fizz, Boom, Read!” It tells the true story of Homer Hickam, a coal miner’s son who was inspired by the first Sputnik launch to take up rocketry against his father’s wishes. The movies are free, so bring blankets or chairs for seating. The screening will be indoors if the weather turns wet.

In a 1950s mining town called Coalwood, Homer Hickam is a kid with only one future in sight: to work in the local coal mine like his father. However, in October 1957, everything changes when the first artificial satellite, Sputnik, goes into orbit. Homer becomes inspired to learn how to build rockets and, with his friends and the local nerd, sets to do just that by trial and a lot of error.

Most of the town, and especially Homer’s father, thinks that Homer and his fellow Rocket Boys are wasting their time. Only one teacher in the high school understands their efforts and lets them know that they could become contenders in the national science fair, with college scholarships being the prize.

NASA engineer Homer H. Hickam, Jr.’s autobiography provided the basis for this drama about a teenager coming of age at the dawn of the space race. Too small to earn a football scholarship, he had no way out of his predetermined life — until the Soviet satellite flies over the October sky and changes everything. The film’s title is an anagram of “Rocket Boys,” the title of the 1998 book upon which the movie is based.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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