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In the days before the July 19, 1969 space mission that marked humankind's first steps on the moon, NASA was working with a group of Australian technicians who had agreed to rig up a satellite interface. That the Aussies placed the satellite dish smack dab in the middle of an Australian sheep farm in the boondocks town of Parkes was just one of the reasons that NASA was concerned. Based on a true story, The Dish takes a smart, witty, comical look at the differing cultural attitudes between Australia and the U.S. while revisiting one of the greatest events in history. Written by
In real life Neil 'Fox' Mason - the character represented by Russ 'Mitch' Mitchell in the movie - never got to see the moonwalk pictures live. He was too busy keeping the windswept dish pointed at the moon. See more »
When the antenna was moved for the first track, during the segment where the machinery was shown starting, two labels "STOWED" and "FREE" were shown. These are modern (Brother brand) P-Touch labels. See more »
Excuse me sir, I'm afraid you've come in the wrong way.
Yeah, this is the old entrance. The visitors center is back out and around to the left.
Right well, I'll wander out then.
Well worth it. Some amazing times.
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The producers acknowledge the valuable assistance of the staff at the CSIRO Parkes Observatory and Visitors Centre, the Council and people of Parkes, New South Wales, and the Council and people of Forbes, New South Wales. See more »
A priceless moment in Australian Cinematic History
The Dish delivers the way some of Michael Crichton's best novels do : Take a true story and build fiction around it so you can entertain the reader/viewer with technical accuracy and focus on the fictional characters, and the role they play. And boy, does The Dish entertain.
First credit must go to Rob Sitch's absolutely brilliant direction. On one hand it comes as no surprise that part of the old "D-Generation" line-up (Rob Sitch, Santo Cilauro, Tom Gleisner, Jane Kennedy) wrote a comedy full of sharp wit in the tradition of the infamous "Late Show" that ran on the ABC (Ch 2) in 1992-1993. Glen's (Tom Long) question "Who's the guy ?", when Al (Patrick Warburton) volunteers his admiration for Neil Armstrong and that he'll be walking on the moon is on a par with the Late Show "It's academic" 1993 sketch where the Santo/Rob/Tom Ivanhoe College team is faced with the challenge : "How much change do you receive from 7 Dollars if you purchase 7 items at 98 Cents each ?" - Rob's answer " What are the items ? " is unforgettable.
That same team performed at its best yet when The Dish's script was written. The Dish is also quite unique as a movie that can be watched over and over again without the need to skip many parts of the story. This could mainly be attributed to the story's characters, and how we are compelled to care about each and every one of them, no matter how insignificant they might seem.
The core of The Dish revolves around Neil Armstrong's first historic steps on the Moon at 12:56 PM, Monday 21 July 1969 AEST. When 600 Million people (1/5th of mankind at that time) tuned in and witnessed the TV pictures from the Eagle Lunar Module, 3 tracking stations were receiving these signals simultaneously. They were CSIRO's Parkes Radio Telescope, Honeysuckle Creek tracking Station near Canberra and NASA's Goldstone station in California. During the first 9 minutes of the broadcast, NASA alternated between these 3 stations. When they switched to the Parkes pictures, they were of such superior quality that NASA remained with them for the rest of the 2 1/2 hour Moonwalk. Of course the audience knows the good outcome to the events, so the writers can fully focus on the fictional part of the story and remind us how human nature can marvel by putting a man on the moon and safely return him home.
The Dish is so refreshing because it doesn't need to resort to adult themes, violence or excessive profanity to flag your attention to the townfolk of Parkes, their involvement in the mission and how they are "over the moon" about it.
The film accurately portrays the spirit of Aussie people in 1969. I found the camerawork simply stunning at times, capturing the beauty of Parkes : the dusty road to the Telescope, the farmer with dog and sheep, the (empty) Fuel station and Parkes' sleepy shops. The wonderful soundtrack attends to the "missing pieces" with songs like "Good morning Star shine" and "Come on". Dramatization is resourcefully completed by Edmund Choi's composition and direction of The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (under Jane Kennedy's guidance).
The Dish succeeds in a non-pretentious and honest way to convey its great emotion and charm to the viewer. Working Dog excelled itself and surely must face great difficulty to surpass this masterpiece. "Frontline" and "The Castle" were very clever indeed, but The Dish is perceived by me as the best Australian Movie ever made, a priceless moment in Aussie Cine history.
Charles "Bud" Tingwell's cameo appearance as the Priest is the icing on the cake. The amount of research to realize the Dish must have been extensive, to adhere for example to the 2.2825 GHz Apollo 11 frequency, the solid minus 90 dBM signals etc. in the script.
It is worthwhile to note that NASA delayed the Parkes pictures by 6 seconds before its worldwide broadcast, in the event of an accident. Australian viewers saw mankind's giant leap 6.3 seconds earlier than the rest of the world !! (A 300 mS delay for the INTELSAT satellite link from Sydney,Australia to Houston,USA was incurred).
I still watch The Dish regularly and the movie, if nothing, conveys greater emotion than it first did. Highly recommended : great acting across the entire cast, almost flawless camerawork, fantastic soundtrack, fast paced yet non-engaging script, witty comedy. A treat for the whole family. 9.5 out of 10 !!!
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