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The Challenger Disaster 1 Season 2013

Season 1
4.6 out of 5 stars (117) IMDb 7.3/10

Oscar-winning star William Hurt heads a stellar cast in this gripping drama about the brilliant and charismatic US physicist Richard Feynman, who helped uncover the secrets behind the Challenger disaster of 1986. Now, 25 years after his death, discover more on this iconic, influential, and inspiring scientist in the accompanying documentary "The Fantastic Mr Feynman".

Starring:
William Hurt, Bruce Greenwood

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Season 1

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1. The Challenger Disaster

Oscar-winning star William Hurt heads a stellar cast in this gripping drama about the brilliant US physicist Richard Feynman, who helped uncover the secrets behind the Challenger disaster of 1986. Battling politics, egos, NASA secrecy and his own quiet fight with cancer, Feynman worked tirelessly to uncover the causes of the tragic event, determined that such failures should never be repeated.

TV-14 CC Runtime: 1 hour, 29 minutes Release date: March 18, 2013
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2. The Fantastic Mr Feynman

Twenty five years after the death of the brilliant and charismatic Richard Feynman, this film explores the remarkable life of the Nobel Prize winner who was one of the greatest scientists of the 20th Century. Drawing on the BBC's earlier iconic films about Feynman and new interviews with those who lived and worked alongside him, we discover what made this extraordinary man such a genius.

TV-14 CC Runtime: 51 minutes Release date: May 12, 2013
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101. Sneak Peek

Take a look at this sneak peek of the thrilling drama about Richard Feynman, the brilliant physicist who uncovered the truth behind the Challenger disaster of 1986.

TV-14 CC Runtime: 2 minutes Release date: November 11, 2013
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By H. Vrsalovic on November 29, 2013
Format: Amazon Video Verified Purchase
Another excellent production by BBC. William Hurt shows off why he's deserving of his Oscar channeling a realistic Richard Feynman. The supporting cast (including a really well-cast, Bruce Greenwood!) do a great job as well in keeping the back-story of political ignorance and recklessness visible through the matter-of-fact science based plot.

The only weakness in the film is the pacing. It seems almost "fast forwarded" by the editors at certain points, and the "3rd act" of the film feels like it moves much too quickly, almost like it's rushing to close with a conclusion. This makes sense for a hollywood blockbuster in order to keep the audience excited, but in a dramatized documentary such as The Challenger Disaster, it isn't necessary. At 90min runtime, it shortchanges itself as the documentary audience is much more accepting of 2, even 3hr+ showtimes . My only guess is that BBC had to either stay within budget or keep to a short runtime to fit into programming slots for the Discovery Channel/Sci Channel/etc., whose audience these days seems to have less and less attention span for actual science and thus whose program directors seem to have adapted by using much more abbreviated, "digestable by all" programs.

Shame, really. It could have been an exceptionally great drama documentary in a longer format
(with topics such as Sally Ride's actual involvement in breaking the O-ring coverup being given more screen time to explore)
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Enjoyable presentation but like most dramas it shortens the story and due to brevity contains misleading information. Some additions:
1: NASA reflects the policies of the President and Congress. The real reason for the Challenger disaster was the administration's decisions on what would and would not be funded. Nixon gutted NASA in 1972 because it was considered to be a Democratic Presidents program. In order to have any manned presence in space at all, a cheaper solution was demanded thus the Shuttle was created. The cost grew to be prohibitive because only one space vehicle would be funded at all! It was not designed for all weather or all payloads. But in order to get any funding they had to promise everything and they had to lie. Reagan continued to slash non-military budgets heavily. In hindsight that is the heart of this story. The Ivory Soap analogy is crap. Nobody knew. The information that Feynman requested could not be furnished because nobody was funded to perform the studies to generate that information. NASA was embarrassed because the studies and the recommendations were desired but not permitted. They could not say that or it would embarrass the real culprit in the funding agencies and NASA would cease to exist.
2: After the time of this story, a more comprehensive analysis was performed. Using the primitive tools at the time it took weeks to get the images digitized for analysis. Further weeks revealed the flame came from the booster joint where the O ring failed and proceeded to rip around the joint as it came apart. Still later the booster was found in the sea. Examination showed that is exactly what happened.
3: A couple of years later a Titan blew out of the sky when a workman used a hammer to dislodge some concrete blocking a hole in the side.
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In 1986, the United States experienced possibly the worst space flight disaster in NASA's history up until that time. (The fire which occurred during the testing of Apollo 1 in 1967 was probably the worst before Challenger.) With a disaster of this magnitude, then President Reagan formed a board of inquiry to determine the cause of the Challenger's untimely explosion which occurred less than 1.5 minutes into its launch. Most of the members of the commission were government, military, and NASA insiders such as astronauts Neil Armonstrong and Sally Ride, Air Force General Donald Kutyna, and William P. Rogers, former cabinet member of presidents and adviser to President Reagan. However, one board member was an outsider but a Nobel Laureate in Physics: Dr Richard Feynman. The present film chronicles the investigation through the eyes of Feynman, played convincingly by William Hurt, who was regarded as a bit of a maverick who did not understand the magnitude of consequences if the full and possibly ugly truth were ever laid bare before public scrutiny.

At the time of the disaster, Feynman was teaching physics at the California Institute of Technology. One of his former students, a NASA insider, recommends the professor become involved with the commission. From the first, Feynman clashes with the Director of the commission Rogers (Brian Dennehy), who is at first more worried about NASA's reputation than finding the cause of the Challenger disaster. Feynman begins a bit of rogue investigative work which frustrates other members of the commission, who are worried that reputations and business contracts could be be jeopardized by the findings.

Feynman then befriends General Donald Kutyna (Bruce Greenwood), who turns out to be an invaluable ally in the investigation.
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Hurt is a great actor. He keeps proving that. I always loved Feynman. I saw him in PBS documentaries as one of the luminaries talking about this and that. Imagine Tim Leary and Albert Einstein fused together and you have Feynman. He's the real deal. A noble prize winner. He worked on the A-Bomb. He is, however, a randomist and advocate of Quantum theory and Einstein did take those guys to task and I'm not sure (and neither is Feynman, in his lectures he tells you that down the road he might be wrong, that's the kind of guy he is). Hurt captures his essence. This movie is, basically, to NASA and the space program what ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN was to Watergate and Feynman (HURT) is the guy on the soap box shouting "I'm not so sure NASA did do a good job!" Bruce Greenwood (as a General on the committee), Eve Best (as Dr. Sally Ride) and Brian Dennehey (as the chairman) and all great as a supporting cast. This movie deals the TRUE STORY (with some embelleshments) of how Dr. Feynman with the help of the General and Dr. Ride disclosed and helped to uncover how and why the crew of the Shuttle lost their live. A good companion piece if you want an Hollywood embellishment of the people inside the Shuttle is "Challenger" with Karen Allen (Indy's gal pal in Raiders of the Lost Ark). Both of these movies go over the edge to be "dramatic" for the TV audience but you get an idea of what crews on the Shuttle and Government Committees go through when you watch both of these films. This produce is FIVE stars for a made for TV movie. Karen Allen's movie isn't quite that great (her's for was Network TV, this one for was BBC). If you really want to see how government works, how NASA works (or doesn't work) this is a great film.
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