Last week I hinted at the first Australian film for the list. It’s one of my favourites, a classic and loosely based on a true story.
There most definitely be spoilers ahead!
The Dish (2000). This movie is about the Australian satellite which played a role in the coverage of the first Apollo moon landing. Set in 1969, during the lead up to the landing and later the landing itself, the account is largely fictionalised.
The movie begins a few months before the landing, as the people of Parkes finds out they’ve “got the landing”. The small town prepares for the arrival of the American Ambassador, plays host to a NASA representative, and follows Apollo 11 to the moon. They face pitfalls, electrical failures, and mother nature herself to successfully provide the world with images of Apollo 11 landing on the surface of the moon.
I grew up watching this movie with my family. We all love it. It’s hilarious, with a lot of great Aussie humour. It’s even better because they occasionally have to explain it to the American characters. The story itself is a pretty good representation of Australia. It was made by the Australian film company Working Dog. It doesn’t contain all those gaudy stereotypes which are often present in American movies; though I would like to point out that there are many times when the characters or dialogue are gently poking fun at themselves.
My favourite character would probably be Glenn. He’s so completely awkward that it’s adorable. He gets particularly flustered when he tries to explain to Jeanine why they need two satellites to relay the pictures streaming from Apollo 11 (one in either hemisphere). If only a basketball had two valves!
Politician: Turns out that Parkes is the biggest radio telescope in the Southern Hemisphere.
Prime Minister: What’s it doing in the middle of a sheep paddock?
Al: Do we have a problem?
Mitch: You treat us like a pack of galahs!
Glenn: That’s a kind of parrot.
Al: Are you telling me that NASA’s prime receiving station has absolutely no idea where Apollo 11 is?
Glenn: Yeah – it’s on its way to the moon.
Al: The Ambassador’s coming. Space nut. Knows everything about Apollo 11.
Mitch: Does he know where it is?
Al: Not everyone at NASA is a hotshot college genius. The guy I most admire is from a one-horse town in Ohio.
Mitch: And what’s he do?
Al: Tomorrow he’s gonna walk on the moon.
Next week I introduce you all to my love of inspirational sports movies. It had to happen eventually. See you then!