It was 1957 and Russia had just launched Sputnik. I was almost 12, and I remember my father pointing up into the October sky as we tried to catch a glimpse of the Earth's first artificial satellite orbiting overhead. Thus the title "October Sky". In West Virginia the son of a coal miner became intrigued with rockets and space travel and, in spite of his father's urgings that he accept his fate and become a coal miner too, eventually won the national science fair competition, and a college scholarship, ultimately became a key member of the space exploration team of NASA. A wonderful and inspiring story, and a superb film of that story.
Everyone was good in the film, but Chris Cooper as the miner boss and stubborn father was far and away the best in "October Sky." Although "rockets" is the theme, the film is primarily of the struggle of children trying to break out of the cycle and become more than just another coal miner. As an epilog we learn that all four of the "rocket boys" went to college, the father died of mining-related disease, the teacher of Hodgkins disease, and the whole town and mining operation was sold and shut down in the next decade.
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