The relaunch of Hanks' `Apollo 13'

New on DVD

Movies: On screen, DVD/ Video

April 07, 2005|By Susan King | Susan King,LOS ANGELES TIMES

HOLLYWOOD - "It's big news," Tom Hanks is proclaiming in jest. "This is massive!"

Kidding aside, the decade-old movie to which Hanks refers is the Oscar-winning Apollo 13, just out in a special two-disc anniversary edition DVD (Universal, $23). The discs feature the original widescreen and Imax versions of the box-office hit about the near-fatal 1970 space mission, commentary with director Ron Howard and Apollo 13 commander Jim Lovell and his wife, Marilyn, and three documentaries.

"There is an awful lot of stuff on the DVD, both the movie and the history" of the space missions, he says. Hanks believes the 1995 film continues to resonate because it was the first definitive space drama about the Apollo missions. "There are oceans of documentaries, most of them long ago and most of them very kind of almost industrial film-oriented. Other than that, the entire area had been relegated to less interesting programming on Discovery and the History Channel."

Apollo 13 succeeded, he says, because it focused on the human dimensions of the story. "It's great drama, it's also great science and great history."

The film inspired Hanks to produce the 1998 Emmy Award-winning HBO miniseries From the Earth to the Moon.

"I thought the two hours we had for Apollo 13 were great and fascinating," he says, "but I thought there were easily 12 more stories we could tell the same way."

Hanks has returned to outer space again as a producer of a 3-D Imax movie, Magnificent Desolation, which is scheduled to open in the fall. "We are taking a huge amount of archival footage [from the manned moon flights], much of which has not been seen, and we are also re-creating the lunar surface, so it's like the audience is walking on the moon along with the astronauts. I am lucky we keep finding this burgeoning technology [to tell the story], as well as the market for an audience that will show up for the subject matter."

Also new:

Closer (Sony, $20): Natalie Portman and Clive Owen received supporting actress and actor Oscar nominations for this adult relationship drama directed by Mike Nichols. The only extra is Damien Rice's music video, "The Blower's Daughter."

Vera Drake (New Line, $28): Mike Leigh's latest project about a 1950s abortionist working illegally in England received three Oscar nominations - for Leigh's direction and screenplay and for Imelda Staunton's sterling lead performance.

Kagemusha (Criterion, 40): After being fired as director of the Japanese section of Tora! Tora! Tora!, legendary filmmaker Akira Kurosawa went through a period of depression - which led to a suicide attempt. When he had a difficult time securing the funding for this stirring, handsomely mounted 1980 historical epic, Kurosawa's good friends George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola persuaded 20th Century Fox to put up the money and release the film.

The two-disc set includes commentary from Kurosawa scholar Stephen Prince, a Japanese documentary, new interviews with Lucas and Coppola, and the inventive "Image: Kurosawa's Continuity," a video piece that reconstructs the film through Kurosawa's watercolor storyboards and sketches for the film.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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