Sunday, May 15, 2005

When a man named Armstrong

walked upon the Moon.

I've just watched and immensely enjoyed this movie[^].

Very Australian; remember that I was 15 when the events it relates occurred. Of course, as an Aussie it was inevitable that I'd get all nostalgic over the scenery, not dissimilar to the scenery in my home state of Victoria. Indeed, it was that nostalgia that led me to remember the events related in my previous blog entry.

I was blown away by the attention to detail. They got the racks of equipment right. Hewlett Packard 181A storage oscilloscopes. HP 141A spectrum analysers. HP 5065A digital counters*. Gawd knows where they got enough working equipment in 2000 to make it look right but all of the technology they show existed in 1969 (and was state of the art at the time). Heck, they even had the cartons for HP instruments from that time.

The soundtrack is right. I don't know how the production crew knew the right songs, given that they would have been all of 7 or 8 years of age at the time. I suspect they had someone my age as an adviser for the right songs to evoke memories of Australia in 1969. Yep, I'll grant you that Russell Morris singing 'The Real Thing' is a bit of an anachronism (that was a hit in 1968) but using the Youngbloods and Thunderclap Newman was exactly right!

But it's when they come to showing the way that we watched the moon landing on that Monday afternoon, July 21 1969** that they really got it right. At my school all of us who could make it home in time were dismissed from school just before lunch. I didn't have that option; I lived in a suburb 5 or 6 miles away and even on my bike I wouldn't have made it in time. Those of us who lacked the option were herded into a large classroom with a single 11 inch TV set (it was an AWA P1 - their first portable model - valves all the way, not a single transistor***) perched upon a rack. I would have been in the middle of the throng and the only way I could see enough detail was to curl my forefinger into a tiny aperture and watch through that (see, I've needed glasses for decades! :-) ).

Thus I watched Neil Armstrong climb down that ladder and heard those words. And thus, late that afternoon, walking down Nicholson Street Footscray past the newsagents. Early editions of the Herald with the banner headlines and that photograph! And later the TV coverage of how the world had reacted and watched. For a few brief hours the war in Vietnam was banished.

* I've repaired all of those models at one time or another.
** It was July 21 in Australia, Monday afternoon.
*** Two years later I worked for AWA in their TV repair workshop; I knew that model backwards.

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