Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini


Sputnik Mania

Sputnik Mania

Rated: No rating 
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: March 21, 2008 Released by: Balcony Releasing

This absorbing documentary will especially appeal to those who lived in a time when the Soviet Union launched the first satellite in 1957 as the Cold War fervor heightened.

Sputnik Mania taps into the zeitgeist in America in that autumn like felt in the wonderful fictional film October Sky which starred Jake Gyllenhaal, Chris Cooper and Laura Dern.

Voice-over is informatively provided by Liev Schreiber covering a time when the public and the government were rather concerned that the large rockets used for the groundbreaking satellite could be a potential source for an atomic advance on our continent.

What's notable here is the use of archival footage assembled with clarity into times of wonder, but also anxiety and fear, like the memorable In The Shadow of the Moon.

In their Sputnik II mission, the Soviets had a dog named Laika along for the ride, while the U.S. efforts with its own satellite just two months later hardly was a launching success.

The filmmakers don't rely much on talking heads, and the result may be for the better with much history on view for those kids or grandkids out of touch with the times.

Ultimately, things looked up for America by way of a Nazi rocket scientist, Werner von Braun, who once made life in Great Britain bleak during the Blitzkreig. Involving and often humorous cinema verite, here is an example of something articulate and appropriately particular for the nostalgia in an event which produced two novelty tunes.

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Sputnik Mania        B               B 

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