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Magnificent Desolation
Last uploaded : Sunday 2nd Oct 2005 at 18:55
Contributed by : Carrie Devorah


Imax 3D documentary
Producers: Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman, Mark Cowen
Writer: Tom Hanks
Narrator: Tom Hanks
Director: Mark Cowen
Running Time: 45 minutes

As Dr. Edwin Buzz Aldrin stepped on to the moon, fellow Apollo 11
astronaut Neil Armstrong asked his thoughts of the expansive realm before
them void of trees, bushes and other markers. Buzz replied, "It's a
magnificent desolation," title of Playtone's IMAX 3D documentary genre production, "Magnificent Desolation: Walking On The Moon." Actor Tom Hanks, Captain James Lovell, Jr. in Ron Howard's "Apollo 13," Gary
Goetzman and Mark Cowen formed Playtone in 1998. All three members of the
National Space Society's Board of Governors are staunch supporters of
private industry pursuing space exploration.

"Desolation," using technical imagination, magically releases its audience
from gravity by placing lunar dust under their feet, from the moment the
lunar module hatch opens and a foot is put on to the dusty plain walking
in to the barreness astronauts faced. The films animators leave no moon
rock unturned to share perspectives otherwise unseen from traditional
vantage points. Computer animated astronauts play golf on the moon, rough
ride over tough terrain, run out of gas, trip and fall free of lesser
gravity on the haunting planet that has long captured man's attention,
inspiring dreamers and connecting lovers. All too famous is Jackie
Gleason's character Ralph Cramden promise to send his wife Alice, "to the

Cowen's state-of-the art film manifests Apollo 11, Neil Armstrong's
statement, "Humanity is not forever chained to this planet." The real life
difficult journey to the moon, in an IMAX theatre chair, is an easy visit
there and back. Breathtakingly clear images of the Moon's eerie beauty are
projected on giant screens, eight stories tall and 120 feet wide. Illusion
is the screen has disappeared. Silly looking 3D glasses bring the moon at
audience ducking showers of moon dust appearing to be kicked into their
face from passing astronaut feet.

The film made with the cooperation of the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration is sponsored by Lockheed Martin Corporation. "Desolation"
reminds older moviegoers of exhilarating times when families watched space
travel on black and white televisions. Then, walking on the moon was the
national agenda. Today, it's private industry's agenda. NASA intends to
return to the moon, 2018. British entrepreneur Richard Branson is
launching his space tourism, 2008. Seats cost $200,000 each.

Astronaut Jim Lovell says Tom Hanks, a "long time space buff, has probably
done more to promote space over the past decade than any organization,
public or private. He is a national treasure." George Whitesides,
executive director of the National Space Society, determines "Magnificent
Desolation" "a triumph," combining " the wonder of Moon walking with the
real history on the Apollo program. In so doing, it inspires us about both
the achievements of our past and the potential glories still in our
future." Bruce Jannelle, NSS's members services says, "Magnificent
Desolation has the possibility to push space travel back into the public's
foremost consciousness."

Harrison Jack Schmitt, Apollo 17, said, "I think the next generation ought
to accept this as a challenge. Let's see them leave footsteps like this."
"Magnificent Desolation" takes on the challenge. In the film's beginning,
Hank's quizzes children with space history questions such as "What did the
astronauts eat? Would you like to go to the Moon?" Few knew the names of
Apollo's astronauts. It is one little girl's expressed desire to go to the
moon that makes the point of the film, space exploration still courses
through man's blood. "Man must explore and this is exploration at its
greatest," David Scott, Apollo 15. Forty years after Apollo, weeks after
IMAX 3D's film premiered, millionaire American space tourist Gregory Olsen
launched into international space. And so, space travel continues.

Hanks narrates, "Only 12 have walked on the moon, ordinary men who did an
extraordinary thing." The astronauts success was just that, out of this
world as is the inscribed plaque Apollo 11's crew left on the moon, "We
came in peace for all mankind."

Washington DC Red Carpet photos available at


[sub-gallery CELEBRITY]

Carrie Devorah is a Washington, DC based editorial photojournalist. Devorah covered the Washington DC premiere of "Magnificent Desolation."


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