Mission to Mir

on October 17, 1997 by Pat Kramer
   Picture yourself gazing at the Earth from an orbiting vantage point in space where you can vividly see the blue oceans, green land masses, and brown mountain tops. Now picture that sight seen while floating in a claustrophobically small space capsule stuffed with gear, where you enter rooms upside-down, where sleeping takes place in a zipped suit standing up, and where all movements require extra coordination. This is life aboard the Russian Space Station Mir (Russian for "peace") as seen in the new IMAX film "Mission to Mir."
   This 40-minute documentary combines dramatic historical footage of former space missions, both in the U.S. and Russia, with a close-up look at the latest technology, filmed by astronauts aboard Mir. If nothing else, the film is unique in offering first time footage of the Russian space mission. The film took 2 1/2 years to make, comprising four separate space missions, three trips to Russia and the dedication of a skilled production crew to see it through. Highlights include interviews with Shannon Lucid and Norm Thagard, the first American astronauts to live on board Mir, and the amazing conjoining of the Space Shuttle Atlantis with Mir, an event which went off perfectly despite its combined 200 tons of technology.
   As serious as this subject matter is, given its top secret status of the past by both superpowers, the filmmakers have chosen a decidedly modern approach to the scoring, creating an off-beat, tongue-in-cheek tone that doesn't quite fit with the mysterious beauty of its subject matter. The result is that one can't quite decide if this is a light comedy or a documentary of historic impact, leaving viewers to make that choice for themselves.    Narrated by August Schellenberg. Directed by Ivan Galin and James Neihouse. Narration written by Mathew Hart and Toni Myers. Produced by Toni Myers and Graeme Ferguson. An Imax release. Documentary. Running time: 40 minutes.
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