• Warning: Spoilers
    A simple and effective film about what life is all about, responding to challenges. It took a lot of gall for Homer and his friends to be able to grow into manhood without falling in the trap of a prefabricated future that runs from father to son, to be a miner in the local mine and never get out of that fate. It took also three different challenges for Homer and his friends to conquer a personal and free future. The challenge of the first ever man-made artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, a Soviet satellite, a milestone in human history, a turning point that Homer and his friends could not miss, did not want to miss. Then the challenge of science and applied mechanics to calculate and to devise a rocket from scratch or rather from what they could gather in books and order in their minds. Finally the challenge of a world that resists and refuses and tries to force you back into the pack, even with an untimely accident that forces you to get back into the pack for plain survival necessity, and even then Homer proved he had the guts to accept the challenge that was blocking for a while his own plans and dreams. But there is another side of the story that the film does not emphasize enough. Homer is the carrier of the project but he is also the carrier of the inspiration he and his friends need. If he is the one who is going to get the university scholarship, because his friends gave him precedence, his friends will also be able to get on their own roads and tracks and step out of the mining fate, thanks to the energy his inspiring example sets in front of their eyes. It is hard at times not to follow the example of the one who is like a beacon on a difficult road. But the film is also effective to show how the father resisted this dream because for him science was not the fabric of a true man, like mining or football. The working class fate that was so present in those 1950s and 1960s and still is present in some areas is too often enforced by the traditional thinking of the father. If the mother does not have the courage to speak up one day, the working class fate I am speaking of becomes a tremendous trap. Here too the film is effective and it should make some parents think. This might have been the fourth challenge Homer had to face: the challenge of taking a road that was not the one pointed at and programmed by his own father.

    Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris Dauphine & University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne