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October SkyOctober Sky on DVD

You Don't have to be a Rocket Scientist

At least that's what young Homer Hickam's dad thought when his son came home with stars in his eyes and visions of Sputnik dancing in his head.

Homer (Jake Gyllenhaal) was growing up in Coalwood, West Virginia, when the first satellite came into his life in 1957. It was a serendipitous discovery that amazed him and gave him hope at the same time.

That's because Homer hated the thought of following his father's footsteps down into the coal mine that was his home town's reason for being - but in Coalwood there wasn't anything else to do unless you got a college scholarship and managed to escape.

Suddenly, Homer realized that the science of rocketry could be an alternative to sports scholarships as his and his friends' ticket out of Coalwood.

Naturally, they run into difficulties, mostly caused by the conflict between people who see the coal miner's life as an end and those like Homer who look upon it as THE end.

October Sky looks and sounds great, though there isn't a lot of surround sound on this Dolby Digital 5.1 release. The DVD is in 2.35:1 widescreen and full frame - you choose which format you want to watch from a menu at the beginning of the movie.

This, incidentally, is a great way to compare the benefits of widescreen with the limitations of "full screen" (no prejudice shown in that sentence, was there?) - though it can also lead to family arguments if one of you likes one version and the other doesn't.

Other extras include a feature commentary, an "on location" documentary on the film (including some words of wisdom from the real Homer Hickam- who went on to work at (surprise!) NASA. There are also production notes, bios and the theatrical trailer. Web links are also included but, as usual, this isn't a big deal.

October Sky is an uplifting movie about the pursuit of one's dreams. It's suitable as family fare - and a wonderful film to show young kids to help inspire them to reach for whatever particular stars they dream of visiting.

October Sky, from Universal Home Video
108 minutes, widescreen (2.35:1), Dolby Digital
starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Chris Cooper, Chris Owen and Laura Dern
Screenplay by Lewis Colick, Produced by Charles Gordon and Larry Franco
Directed by Joe Johnston


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Updated May 13, 2006