The best of the initial series of "made in space" IMAX films, The Dream Is Alive
is a wonderful introduction to space travel for young and old alike. The national shuttle program was only four years old when this 35-minute documentary was released in 1985, and the film emphasizes the differences between the shuttle and conventional rockets. The opening shot of a shuttle returning to the Earth like a plane is an unmistakable difference. We follow two flight crews through training, rehearsals, and (mostly) the flight. The crystal-clear images of Earth do not have the same impact that they do in a large-format IMAX theater, but they are still a wonder to behold, especially with the effective narration by Walter Cronkite--for many the voice of America's heyday in space. Director Graeme Ferguson keeps the film streamlined and never preachy (unlike the companion film, Blue Planet
). With a big assist from Star Wars
sound designer Ben Burtt, The Dream Is Alive
builds excitement through footage that includes three electrifying launches. The film was released a year before the Challenger
disaster, and played in rotation after the accident as an emotional pull to return to the heavens. On that note, the film delivers the message that despite the risks, our future is in space. (For ages 5 and older.) --Doug Thomas
Journey into space alongside the astronauts on the space shuttle as they orbit around the Earth, floating as never before over the towering Andes, the boot of Italy, Egypt and the Nile. Witness firsthand a tension-filled satellite capture and repair and the historic first spacewalk by an American woman.