Apollo 13 question (no spoilers in OP)

So I’m watching Apollo 13 and I’ve got to ask: how did they accomplish the weightless effect when filming?

Sorry if this has asked; the search engine is kaput for me right now.

They were in some type of jet that would do some manuevers that would simulate zero gravity and they would film during that time.

They filmed on-board a NASA plane known as the Vomit Comet. It’s used in astronaut training. By flying a series of parobolic arcs, it’s able to provide short periods (20-30 seconds) of zero gravity.


I knew of the Vomit Comet, and even considered that, but thought, “Nah, too many trips through the arc to film all that.” 'Guess not.

Here’s a good article on the Vomit Comet:

IIRC, an interview with Kevin Bacon quoted him as thinking that if the plane crashed, he would know where he ranked in Hollywood. The headline would be “Tom Hanks Killed in Plane Crash”, list of others page 26.

I knew of the Vomit Comet, and even considered that, but thought, “Nah, too many trips through the arc to film all that.” 'Guess not.

Well, they didn’t film all the space scenes on the plane. A lot of scenes where done on the ground. It was Just the ones where people or objects are entirely on-screen floating, like when the astronauts float down the tunnel between the command module and lunar module.


Oh, can I tack on my question? I was watching this the other night and I missed the part where they explained what was wrong with Fred Haise. Why did he have a fever?

Haise had a kidney infection.

I just got Jim Lovell’s book Lost Moon not that long ago… :slight_smile:


I remember an interview with Lovell right after the movie opened. His biggest complaint was that his car was the wrong color in the movie…and he said he got so sucked into it that he started wondering if the astronauts would make it home. Then he realized that he was one of the astronauts in question.

One thing that Jack Swigert’s sister commented on after the film, was that none of those guys would have ever lost it like they did in the movie. She said that they were all very professional men who would never have had outbursts or fights.

If the story intrigued you, also pick up Gene Kranz’ book Failure is Not an Option, which chronicles our space program and includes his experience with Apollo 13. Gene was the Flight Director for NASA for many years, and was played by Ed Harris in Apollo 13 and the character of Gene in Space Cowboys was also based on Gene Kranz. I’ve met him, and he’s a hell of a guy.

Lovell, who was there, said they did have a brief spat, but refused to explain further. Under the circumstances, it would be inhuman not to.

OT -

This is one of the few movies that I believe the casting was almost perfect… especially Hanks/Lovell.

Lovell in real life just “seems” like such a nice guy in every interview I have ever seen of him. I think Tom Hanks did a very convincing job.

I’m just curious as to opinions on this … does a historical event, or a film/book/song made about a historical event, need spoiler warnings?

Yeah, I can see spoiler warnings for a movie based on an historical event for a few reasons.

The first would be that over the years I’ve come to realize not everyone is familiar with history. That’s not the best reason, of course - getting your history education from Hollywood is not the most desirable course.

Second, a movie based on an historical event may well have some dramatic subplot that even a student of history might not know about in advance.

And third, fictional events depicted in the movie (say, the outcome of a certain historically insignificant character’s battle with a machine gun nest or some such) might best be enjoyed by the viewer firsthand.

The only thing that ticked me off is that Lovell’s book, Lost Moon, was re-titled to coincide with the film.

Poor Jim just couldn’t get an even break.

I own this film and have seen it numerous times. Even though I know how it ends, I get sucked in, too, and it’s a nailbiter for me every single time. This film is almost “spoiler proof.”

Sidebar: given the number of people purporting to believe that the moon landing was a hoax (since this is a respectable cafe, I will refrain from labelling them slack-jawed yokels), why no “disbelievers” in the Apollo 13 near-disaster? I mean, logic and heavy documentation doesn’t seem to be an obstacle to their conspiracy-building about the landings.

Just curious.

But Lost Moon is a crappy title. I’m sure that for Lovell & Haise the fact that they didn’t get to land was a huge disappointment, but for everyone else (both at the time and now, as audience-members) cared only that they would make it home. All the drama about whether to land or not was over less than 1/3 of the way into the film and, I assume, the book. But the real drama was still to come.


The spoiler warning makes sense to me now, beatle, especially with subplots or when historical characters/events have been changed.

I don’t think Lost Moon is a crappy title. Though I haven’t read it, I understand that it is actually Jim Lovell’s perspective. For one, he obviously ought to be able to name it whatever he likes, but more importantly, it highlights the personal nature of the experience. As you indicated, this was something very important to them – the title provides that point.