To celebrate 50 years since man first walked on the moon our July film is "The Dish". The Dish is the story of how a lowly radio telescope in Parkes, in the southern state of New South Wales in Australia, was upgraded in 1969 to transmit the live pictures of the Apollo 11 moon landing for NASA. This film is packed full of humour and admiration at the enormity of what was being attempted.
Stars: Sam Neill, Billy Mitchell, Kevin Harrington, Patrick Warburton
Tickets £5. Tickets can be booked online (click below) or from the Community Centre office.
At the precise time the landing was scheduled to take place, the direct line of sight was going to be with the Southern Hemisphere, not the North, halfway around the planet from Cape Kennedy. In the country town of Parkes was the most powerful receiving dish in the world, even though it's located in the middle of a sheep paddock to this very day.
The five quirky Parkes dish operators are brought to life by the very funny Kevin Harrington as Ross 'Mitch' Mitchell, who manoeuvres the dish, Tom Long as painfully shy Glenn Latham, the computer scientist, Patrick Warburton as prim but charismatic NASA representative Al Barnett, Sam Neill as Cliff Buxton, Parkes director and "dishmaster", and finally, Tayler Kane as the lanky security guard Rudi who is so overly impressed by his increased security status.
Everyone gets into the spirit of allowing Parkes to shine during its moment of glory and the audience is dragged right along. The whole cast is a joy to watch. Sam Neill has never been more tender as the recently widowed radio astronomer missing more than grieving his wife, who would have loved all this. "Nothing is as frightening as regret", he quotes her in a quiet moment. Patrick Warburton, the same actor who voices Kronk in The Emperor's New Groove (2001), also has some soft-spoken tender moments as he begins to confide in his host and as he charms the rabidly antagonistic Marie (Lenka Kripac) with a single handshake. Comedian Kevin Harrington (Mitch) steals every scene and Carl Snell echoes our own humility as the space fan and Mayor's tiny son, Billy, who is probably the person really behind Parkes' nomination into the Apollo program.
The most wonderful, quintessentially 1960s moment is when the chafing Aussie finally admits, to the man he'd been chafing against, that it was his own fault that the generator failed. The NASA rep, despite their long-standing feud, just says "Well, these things happen. Better get to work". The moment makes you deeply regret that all it took for man to go to the moon was that kind of spirit and commitment. For the people involved, it wasn't about the cold war, it wasn't about which government got to plant its flag on another space body. It was the cooperation of people who had to relearn how to even speak to one another. This was "science's chance to be daring".
It is to the creators', Working Dog Productions' credit that we get such a lump in our throat over the fact that this real CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) facility is still a part of NASA missions to this day. It is a matter of public record that despite gusts of wind so much greater than what the Parkes telescope was rated for, the Aussies provided the live TV coverage of The Eagle landing. How many of us wish we could leave footprints in that powder! With thanks to the Parkes Radio Telescope we saw Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin go in peace for all mankind, if only for a few priceless moments.
The New Royalty Cinema screenings are at the centreCinema in Bourne End Community Centre, Wakeman Road, Bourne End SL8 5SX
Tickets can be bought online (follow the link in the film summary on this page) or from the Community Centre office or on the door (subject to availability)
For information on the BBFC film classifications: Click Here
The New Royalty Cinema is a community cinema run by volunteers as a fund-raising event for Bourne End (Bucks) Community Association, a charity registered in England and Wales No. 300236