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The Dream Is Alive (1985)

 -  Documentary | Short  -  June 1985 (USA)
7.7
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 362 users  
Reviews: 8 user | 6 critic

Traveling on the Space Shuttle, covers training, launch, flight, deployment of LDEF from Challenger in April 1984 (STS-41C).

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George Nelson ...
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Kathy Sullivan ...
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James Van Hoften ...
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Shot in space by the astronauts themselves, the film provides a close-up look at several space shuttle missions, including the Challenger's 1984 mission to repair a damaged satellite. Written by Eric Sorensen <Eric_Sorensen@fc.mcps.k12.md.us>

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Documentary | Short

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June 1985 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Drömmen om rymden  »

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The next closest thing to flying in space
28 February 2006 | by See all my reviews

To date, NASA has made five IMAX films that have been shot from the Space Shuttle or the Space Station. "The Dream is Alive" was the first, and is probably still the best. It must be seen on the IMAX screen to fully appreciate it, but still looks and sounds good on DVD if seen on a big television with a good sound system. The launch sequences would be excellent opportunities for audiophiles to display their subwoofers to admiring guests.

Considering that all of the film shot in space was shot by the shuttle crews rather than by professional cameramen, the results are outstanding. This is probably the closest you can get to the sensation of being in space, short of actually going there yourself. There are also excellent ground sequences of the shuttles being assembled, launched, and recovered, along with the training required for astronaut candidates – all well chosen to look dramatic in the IMAX format.

The three shuttle missions featured in this film all took place during 1984, and the film was released in the summer of 1985. At the time it was released, NASA was launching shuttle missions at a rate never seen before or since. The film displayed the optimism of the time, where the safety of the flights was not in question, and the goal of everyone flying in space someday seemed to be within reach. NASA had a teacher-in-space program and a journalist-in-space program (as well as an unofficial politician-in-space program, where a congressman and a senator conned their way into space flights), and an ambitious program of fifteen launches was scheduled for 1986. Everything looked rosy, and the film reflects this.

Then, on the first (and only) shuttle launch of 1986, Challenger exploded, killing the crew of seven (including two of this film's cast). The previous optimism vanished, never to fully return, in the light of revelations about unresolved safety issues, unrealistic expectations, etc. The film is thus an artifact of this vanished era, and it's rather sad to see this atmosphere of optimism in the light of what was to follow. Nonetheless, the sequences in the movie are still very effective, and the subsequent IMAX space films have only managed to equal (but not exceed) what is seen here. If you're a space enthusiast, you owe it to yourself to see this at least once in an IMAX theater.


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