Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood review – Richard Linklater’s sweet memoir of the 60s

April 1, 2022
Abirbhab Maitra 0
Film Reviews, Netflix, Streaming Service
3.5

Summary

Richard Linklater’s new animated feature brings back the 60s nostalgia, reminding us of the joys, spirits, and dreams of that era.

3.5

Summary

Richard Linklater’s new animated feature brings back the 60s nostalgia, reminding us of the joys, spirits, and dreams of that era.

This review of the Netflix film Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood does not contain spoilers.

Richard Linklater is known for the films that revolve around the suburban culture and the effects of the passage of time. He uses his distinct cinematic vision to mold his unique narratives in conveying so. Consider his Before trilogy; they are less plot-driven and more about human interactions between people, and they vary in time and situation over a long period. His new animated film Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood follows that path. It follows a less conventional movie narrative of having lots of drama in telling the story of the decade of the space age. Instead, it achieves its core intention by making a visual memoir of that era from nostalgia, memory, and ephemera.

Loosely based on Linklater’s upbringing in Texas in the 1960s, he captures the timeframe of that decade through the eyes of Stan. Linklater uses Jack Black as the narrator in the film as he is telling the story out of his memory. Thus the film has no singular plot. Instead, it becomes a montage of reminiscing from the past nostalgia. From the suburban culture to the political tensions to the parenting they got to the pop culture of that era and most importantly, the everlasting effect of the urge to space exploration on everyday people, all are part of that. And all those bits and pieces of sweet nostalgia are beautifully woven by the editor Sandra Adair. Adair’s deft editing complements the overall texture of a handmade scrapbook feeling with the animation by carefully turning its pages from one to another.

To show different textures and designs to mirror the analog world and subjective and creative memory of Stan, Linklater chooses to use handmade animation over digital effects. As the film takes place in the 60s, it gives the film a more retro look. I am not an expert on animated films, but the film’s overall outlook is fascinating to see on the screen.

Apart from these well-crafted technical aspects, the most exciting facet of the film is how it showcases the coming-of-age element. The story of Stan growing up is metaphorically represented as he is going on space explorations before the original moon landing. Though in the climax, it’s pretty unclear if that’s his mere imagination or not, it is pretty clear that life isn’t the same after that. As the famous quote of Neil Armstrong, “That’s one step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” the space age and, most notably, the first lunar landing was probably an influential decade for every child of that era. And, for children like Stan, living geographically so near to NASA is more of a pivotal factor in their growing up.

Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood is a masterful tale of capturing the sweet memories of everyone growing up in America in the 1960s, the decade where the world is going through a pivot of changes from political to cultural to scientific. Half a century after, Linklater’s recreation of that lost time brings back that charm. It’s always been said that men live their lives through experiences from their memories. With Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood, Linklater brings back those experiences which remind us of the values of empathy, joy, and the undefeated spirit to dream big in this turbulent time.

What did you think of the Netflix film Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood? Comment below!

You can watch this film with a subscription to Netflix.

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