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  • "October Sky" is a film that will steal your heart, fill your mind with vivid imagery, and lift your spirit. The tale of Homer Hickham and his dream of creating a rocket seem so simple at first, especially when the film is set in a mining town, where the future is as clear cut as the lumps of coal in the mine. But Homer cannot follow in his father's footsteps. With the encouragement of Miss Riley,(a friendly teacher), members of his father's staff, and his friends, Homer attempts to make his dream a reality.

    Yet as in any true to life story, there are many stops along the way. Director Joe Johnston lowers us into the coal mines, where we witness the chilling plight of miners stooped beneath a ceiling of rock. With lit helmets and bent posture, they resembled alien insectoids more than humans in the darkness. The hacking coughs of the miners and the blackened faces were a constant reminder of the danger the miners faced in their work.

    Contrasting the mine shaft's lugubrious load are the images of Homer and his friend's rocket launches. Underneath the blue bowl of sky, rockets are placed upon a pad and launched into the stratosphere...And nothing can match the scene when Homer sees Sputnik for the first time.

    Yet what makes the film so endearing is the relationship between the characters. Homer's father is a classic hardened man...but he has a soft side as well. We see that he does love his son, despite their many arguments. The love and support of Miss Riley is evident as well. Best of all, the film is uncomfortable. It doesn't tie everything up in a nice bow. It tears at you, lifts you up. It keeps an air of reality, which is important in a film like this.

    This film can be considered a complete work. At first, I was disappointed that the film did not continue with Homer's life. I didn't want it to end. Then I realized...that's what a good film does to a person. If it has done its job, you won't want it to end. And "October Sky" accomplishes just that.
  • haydensprincess200524 March 2005
    1.) This movie was amazing! I watched it while I was in the town next to the one where he grew up! I went and saw the buildings that the story took place in. Overall, I loved this movie, One of Jake Gyllenhaal's best!! Also- my favorite parts were the science fair, and all the times with his father. They were so sad, it seemed. Homer wanted to follow his dream and his dad didn't seem to care one way or another. That tag line is true. "Sometimes One Dream is bright enough to light up the sky." 2.) The way this movie was shot was impeccable, it was all so believable that it could have been recorded during the 1950's. Dress was accurate and they had their slang down too. Definitely recommend this movie!
  • I loved this movie. It is one of the few movies that I have consistently recommended to friends to rent and have had all of them thank me for the referral. The film has some powerful themes that are beautifully scripted. The acting is superb all around (Chris Cooper has never turned in a bad acting role in my opinion!) The message of this film is so well delivered, so powerful, that it moved me to tears the first time I saw it. Not sad tears, which are easily solicited by cinema formula, but tears of joy--a rare thing.

    Although I did not grow up in the 1950's, I believe this film honestly portrays the mood and setting of the time. Given today's harsh world with all its complications, watching this film is a welcome escape to a time of innocence, wonder, and discovery. Highly recommended!
  • I have yet to read "The Rocket Boys", the book upon which this film is based, but this situation will not continue! I did read a short story by Hickam which was apparently the seed that started him on the novel. It grabbed me even then.

    I am one of those fortunate enough to have lived adjacent to Cape Canaveral during the Mercury program, where my father worked, and this childhood situation no doubt fostered my lifelong interests and hobbies. I also met Werner von Braun, and one of the other German rocket scientists repaired a rubber band driven model plane I had (I WISH I still had that plane!) I mention this because I went into the movie with serious expectations and very much desired to see a film with authentic treatments for the nostalgia and emotions of the period.

    I was not disappointed. While there were superficial flaws here and there, the movie came together like so few Hollywood films do. Good storytelling, authentic emotions and period atmosphere. As others have experienced at this excellent film, I was choked up at the end and had to wipe away the tears. The father of the family next to me asked to borrow my spare paper napkin to wipe his tears. About half the audience applauded at the end, and most everyone stayed through the credits. It's just one of those films.

    Not the greatest movie ever made, but one of the best family movies in a long time.
  • I first saw Jake Gyllenhaal in Jarhead (2005) a little while back and, since then, I've been watching every one of his movies that arrives on my radar screen. Like Clive Owen, he has an intensity (and he even resembles Owen somewhat) that just oozes from the screen. I feel sure that, if he lands some meaty roles, he'll crack an Oscar one day...

    That's not to denigrate this film at all.

    It's a fine story, with very believable people (well, it's based upon the author's early shenanigans with rocketry), a great cast – Chris Cooper is always good, and Laura Dern is always on my watch list – with the appropriate mix of humor, pathos, excitement...and the great sound track with so many rock n roll oldies to get the feet tapping.

    But, this film had a very special significance for me: in 1957, I was the same age as Homer Hickham; like him, I looked up at the night stars to watch Sputnik as it scudded across the blackness; like Homer also, I experimented with rocketry in my backyard and used even the exact same chemicals for fuel; and like Homer, I also had most of my attempts end in explosive disaster! What fun it was...

    I didn't achieve his great (metaphorical and physical) heights though. But, that's what you find out when you see this movie.

    Sure, it's a basic family movie, but that's a dying breed these days, it seems. Take the time to see it, with the kids: you'll all have a lot of good laughs.
  • This is a fine drama and a nice change of pace from today's more hectic and loud films. It is another solid based-on-a-true store, which still means much of it could be made up for dramatic purposes. Frankly, I don't know but I liked the story.

    The story is about a young man back in the Fifties who gets interested in rocketry and wants to enter that field instead of working in the coal mines as everyone else, including his father, does in this West Virginia town. The big problem is the conflict it causes between the boy and his father, which I think was overdone. I would like to have a little less tension between the two.

    The young man, still a boy, is played by Jake Gyllenhaal, one of his first staring assignments, I think. He's likable, as are his school buddies in here. It's nice to see nice kids in a modern-day film. The two other key actors in the movie are Chris Cooper (the dad) and Laura Dern (the kid's teacher who encourages him all the time.)

    The cinematography is decent the 1950s soundtrack is fun to hear. Once again: I wish there more of these kind of films made today.
  • I was watching this when my wife called to inquire from the other room as to my choice of fare. My comment? "I am watching my Life!"

    Though younger, but only by 5 years or so, than the "Rocket Boys" I remember the absolute urgency with which Sputnick was greeted by our administrators of education and how the whole Science Fair thing gained momentum and took me and others into the competitive whirlwind. My own tornado landed me in my own State's Science Fair, in Physics by '62, though our group was less successful in gaining the support of, for example, firefighters we approached for guidance and counsel until after a tragic event, our city went so far as to allow us to tour the Nike missile site on Chicago's lakeshore.

    This movie brought it all back for me and I will bet that it brought it all back for a bunch of us "UberNerds" of the late '50s and early 60's.

    We are in a similar science brain drainage period now and really need this movie as a country. See It!
  • This is a gem, a real piece of Americana for all that this implies. If you are self programed to resist "life-afirming" stories, just stay away and leave the pleasure to the rest of us who still believe. And what makes the frosting on the cake truly delectable is that it is fact based on a real rags to riches story, no need to nit-pick what details were changed to make a compact story. Chris Cooper is one of the greatest living actors, and the complex, self-conflicted, bottom-line good at the core father he portrayed could only be pulled off successfully by someone with his skill and insight. The simple minded comments, refusing to accept a father who tries to lay down the law all the while sensing that he may possibly be off-track, expose the limitation of the commentator, not the writers or the acting. This is not for the cynical, or the simple minded.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    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.
  • Impman221 July 2020
    Absolute classic. Made me laugh and made me cry. Inspirational, moving and heart warming.
  • There is an old saying that relates to the rousing new film by Joe Johnston that goes something like this: "The man who thinks he can and the man who thinks he can't are both right." That is a highly presumptuous statement referring to self motivating and belief in an individual, which, in this movie, stand true even after road blocks and family trouble stand in the way.

    "October Sky" is about a young man who believes in himself named Homer Hickam, growing up in a strict, traditional family in the 1950's. Homer loves in a small coal mining town where nearly every man grows up to be a miner. All of his friends, Quentin, Roy, and O'Dell all think that their life after high school will be like everyone else's. Homer is not exited about that future.

    One night, while everyone stares at the sky, a Russian space craft called Sputnik passes overhead. This is something new for Homer, and he finds it spectacular and overwhelming. From this point on, his look at life will never be the same.

    First, he tells everyone that he wants to work in the rocket scientist area for an occupation. Flabbergasted at what he says, his family passes that idea over their heads and continues with life as usual His friends, however, think that this idea may have some potential. After all, Quentin is a very smart individual when it comes to this kind of thing.

    When the four friends start to test model rockets, and blow a white picket fence to smithereens, then what seems to be a forest fire is scared by them, they're forced to end their progresses.

    The performances in this movie are absolutely riveting from start to finish. All of the actors give performances as if this is the real mumbo jumbo here. Standing out in all of the glory: Laura Dern as Miss Riley. This very well may be Academy award material if the judges can remember back to the beginning of the year when this film is released.

    The characters are also extremely well developed. Not only to the filmmakers give clear, apparent reason why Homer is interested in the subject, but they also explain to the audience how they are succeeding in their studding of rocketry. We clearly understand all of the characters' motives and beliefs, especially the father, who is bent over on everlasting tradition.

    The film, unfortunately, loses some of its momentum at mid-point because of a silly, recycled romantic sub-plot involving Homer's love interest and how his brother stole her from him. This type of this is becoming so awfully common in high-school movies, not that this film is aimed at high-schoolers. The actors stare at each other mindlessly, like the are in a trance. I put up with it without complaining in 1997's "Inventing the Abbots," but I have had just about enough this.

    But that is just a minor complaint. With an authentic looking time period, cinematography worth an Oscar and clips of the real life Homer and friends at the end, whom all hit it big with their dreams, especially Homer, this is the first great film of 1999.
  • I resisted seeing this movie and I understand why it was not a big hit in theatres. "October Sky" feels and looks oh so familiar. And it is. All plot contrivances and emotions have been explored before in other films -- and possibly even better. But despite it's familiarity and resistance to all formulas Hollywood, this movie is winning and likeable at every turn.

    Sputnik is the inspiration for this journey of the heart, mind and soul. Just as the characters from Steven Sondheim's musical MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG stood agape atop their apartment roof hoping it would launch their new generation ("What do you call it? You call it a miracle."), Sputnik has a similar affect on the young rocket boys of this true tale. While jaded townsfolk of their 1950's coal town dismiss the event, Homer Hickham sees Sputnik as his ticket out of a life in the mines.

    Masterful direction and casting make the journey of rocket boy Homer and his pals seem fresh and new. Especially affecting are subplots concerning Homer's ailing young school teacher. Remarkable restraint is shown in depicting their delicate relationship. Also remarkable is the father / son supblot that anchors the film. Perfectly played all around. Even Homer's mom gets her moment without cliche or intrusion. Her ultimatum to her husband is both dignified and heatbreaking. "Myrtle Beach" says it all.

    A major video chain I despise has a sign next to this film stating that you'll love this film or they'll refund your money. For once, I agree with them. You'll never look at the October sky quite the same again.
  • The best family-friendly drama of all time, that does not condescend to teens, and engages adults and youth on an equal plane. This is a cinematic work of art - Direction, screenplay, editing, cinematography, music score and truly inspired performances by the actors get 10/10 marks.

    October Sky sets a very high bar, and is an inspiring must-see movie for ages 10 to 110.
  • 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
  • I have recently seen this movie due to Jake's recent success with Brokeback Mountain. I figured I would see the movies that I missed. I had no expectations going into the film so was astounded that I had missed this movie at all. It's a gripping father and son tale, and it is also an underdog story. I even shed a tear at the finale of this wonderful tale. This movie appeals to all ages. The only reason I give it a 9 out of 10 is that it slows down a little in the middle, but it comes back strong in the end. The acting was great, the story was magnificent, and the cinematography was captivating given the setting of the film. GO SEE THIS MOVIE! Rent it, buy it, watch it, LOVE IT! I know I did!
  • There is a bit of trivia which should be pointed out about a scene early in the movie where Homer watches the attempt of December 6, 1957 (at least that was the video used on the TV he was watching) which showed the Vangard launch attempt, which failed.

    He is next shown reading or dictating a letter to Dr. Von Braun offering condolences about the failure.

    Von Braun was at Marshall space flight center in Huntsville working for the Army. The Vanguard project was by the early Nasa team which was at what soon became Goddard Space flight center.

    The army rushed the Jupiter-C, which was essentially a US made V2 technology, but worked to launch a satellite in response to Russia's success with Sputnik.

    This error may have actually been made by Homer, because of the notoriety of Von Braun, but his team didn't have their attempt fail. In fact the underlying Redstone was flying from 52 and was the first US man rated booster, used for Shepard's sub orbital flight, as well as Grissom's.

    This is why this sort of movie is so good, as it hopefully will inspire people to read up and spot these bits of trivia, and in the process see what has been done, and be inspired to do more.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This movie was incredibly well done and thought out. The only reason this thing has a 7.6 out of 10 is because critics hate the space program. This movie rivals Apollo 13 and is highly under-rated. Its a very inspirational film that at the end ==Spoiler== I nearly cried seeing STS-1 liftoff with the absolutely well done film score that makes you want to fly into Space. ==End Spoiler== Jake did a great job on this one.

    I remember seeing this back in 1999, I wasn't expecting much and I was extremely surprised and it caused me to go into rocketry myself. Bravo, Bravo.
  • In a little town where the neighbourhood is made up of mines and all the villagers are miners, your destiny could seem to follow in your father's footsteps, especially if he is the head-miner. In this Johnston's masterpiece, Jake Gyllenhaal is Homer Hickam, a student that warmed to astronomy, dreaming of build a rocket. His father is against him: his family needs money and he would like that his son will contribute to the maintenance in stead of spending time with frivolous projects; what his father doesn't understand is that the rocket means the way to have a possibility to pick out his own life and to not accept what other people have preordained to you. No need if your project will not realize, no need if you will have failed: what's important is to try; with determination, something will be stand to you: the fear and the courage to say: "I'll ever attempt!". This is what the movie shrieks: "Keep your chin up! Go on!".
  • i voted it 10 as it's my most loved movie of all time. It was one of those rare moments and rare feelings you get when something great comes to an end. It was never a movie which was grossly advertised or hugely popular. Very honest and real account, non of this typical Hollywood falseness you get in so many movies.. It's certainly got the x-factor in my books. I was surprised this movie didn't do a 'shawshank redemption' thus becoming hugely popular years after the movie was released. I first watched this movie years after it came out at the cinema on the back of a coach on a 6hour journey to the everglades in Florida i was with my family and we balled our eyes out. Not many people really knew about this movie and its precisely because of this; it wins my heart.
  • I was lucky enough to catch "October Sky" at a sneak preview a few days ago; I plan to see it again upon its release. The somewhat typical tale of inspiration and dreams is enhanced enormously by beautiful cinematography, and the somewhat whimsical use of Dr. Werner Von Braun throughout the film. The end of the film cleverly uses footage of the actual people involved in the story as

    summation of the outcome is given for each character. I strongly recommend this film, the first I've seen in nine years that's made me laugh and cry the first time.
  • OCTOBER SKY is a great, great movie. I would consider it to be one of the best dramas ever made. Perhaps even one of the best movies ever made in any genre. This is the true story of four boys in a coal mining town that, instead of growing up to become coal miners like their fathers, they want to do something more. They want to make something of themselves. Inspired by the launch of the first Sputnik, the four boys set out to create their own rocket and win the county science fair to win themselves scholarships. OCTOBER SKY wins on every level. Humor, drama, a little action, some romance (not very much). I really enjoy movies of this caliber. While it wasn't a very big hit in theaters, it was still one of the best movies that I have ever seen so far in my life. I saw this movie in science class, because we are learning about the creation of rockets ourselves, but I didn't really pay much attention to the building of the rocket, it was more the feel and sadness of the film. It is truely a great movie to watch with or without your family. It is good either way. After I am done writing this, I am going to watch it again. I just thought it best to write my review before I see it in friggen wide-screen format on my DVD. I seriously cannot see how people can enjoy watching movies on wide-screen. It takes away half of the screen! What the hell is up with that? And people say its better? Some people are just really stupid. But, here's hoping that the great feel of the movie will keep me happy and keep me from not moaning about it. If you like this movie, I also recommend THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, THE GREEN MILE, STAND BY ME, THE MAJESTIC, THE LEGEND OF BAGGER VANCE,and HEARTS IN ATLANTIS. 5/5 for all of those including OCTOBER SKY.
  • I think I read this someplace: Joe Johnston (director of the film and also one of the guys who founded Industrial Light and Magic for work on the first Star Wars film) and one of his producers or something were racking their brains for a title for the movie, "Rocket Boys" (I guess) was lacking something.

    One day they were messing with a PC program that forms words from other words (ie: you type in a word or series of words and it mixes the letters up and forms other words) I think the technical term is an "anagram"

    Anyway, they typed in "Rocket Boys" and sure enough what comes back is "October Sky". They were shocked to say the least. The title summed up everything in the movie since the movie revolves around Sputnik. At first Homer Jr did not like the idea, but he warmed up to it after the "movie poster paperback novel" came out and took off.
  • When I first saw the premise, I thought the movie would be similar to VARSITY BLUES (without the sports, of course)...somewhat cheesy and predictable. However as the story develops, one will notice that Joe Johnston actually had a well-thought out plan for this feature. The story is moving and compelling, and will affect you emotionally in ways movies like these rarely do.

    The reason? It's a simple movie, with a relatively familiar backdrop, but it's done very straightforwardly with no hint of pretension. At times there is some degree of predictability, but then the story takes rather unexpected turns. Just when you think you know exactly what will happen, the movie will prove your alleged clairvoyance wrong.

    The standout in this movie for me is the interaction between Jake Gyllenhaal and Chris Cooper. This interaction provides one of the more complex and layered father/son relationships you will see in a movie of this nature. Laura Dern also has a small role but manages it quite effectively.

    Moreover, much has been done to recreate the 1950s ambiance; from the costumes to the art decoration to the architecture, this movie looks and feels like it is based in the 1950s, adding to the overall viewing experience.

    I would recommend this for anyone looking to see a (much) better-than-average film about belief in oneself and achieving one's dreams in the face of adversity, although this movie is much more than just that. Not for those who think cheesy special effects and mind-numbingly lewd comedy are prerequisites for a good film.

    3.5 stars (out of 4). 8/10. Should warrant a place in my Honourable Mentions list.
  • Stibbert29 December 2005
    I just accidentally stumbled over this film on TV one day. It was aired in the middle of the day on a channel not exactly famous for airing good movies. This one, however, was nothing less then good.

    October Sky tells the true story of Homer Hickam, a boy inspired by the Sputnick launch to become a rocket scientist. He and his friends begin to build rockets. His father is not to happy about his sons new found hobby and would rather see him become a coal-miner as himself or go to college on a football-scholarship like his brother.

    The story is well written. A bit too predictable maybe, but that's OK cause it doesn't focus too much on those parts of the story. It's important part, but where this is obvious the inner action, the action between the characters is focused on. The story is good. It has some clichés, but that's OK. It's based on actual event's so you kind of can't just drop out these clichés. The characters are really good. Where the story is on a downhill the characters are brought out and manage to keep the action and the quality of the movie high. You get to know these characters and you get sympathy for them. They are well written and believable.

    This is a good looking movie. The sets and the 50's style is thorough and the pictures are well composed and well lit. This all sets the mood of the film very good.

    The acting is really good. Jake Gyllenhaal delivers a great performance as Homer Hickam and Chris Cooper is good as John Hickam. As for the rest of the cast they are good too. All together this makes out a pretty strong cast.

    All in all I'm glad I caught this movie. It was first after seeing it I learned that it was based on actual events. If I had known that when seeing it, it would probably just be even more interesting. October Sky is a good and interesting movie. It's a movie I believe everyone can enjoy. It's kind of a feel-good movie. Not bad at all!
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