One of the most popular limited-distribution films of the past five years, this powerful documentary about NASA’s space shuttle program has now been seen by more than 25 million people and has grossed $70 million worldwide. A good bit of its popularity and most of its power derives from the venue in which The Dream is Alive truly comes alive: IMAX theaters, with their towering, concave screens that envelop viewers and seem to swoop them into the action.
Now Dream’s producers, the Lockheed Corp. and the National Air and Space Museum (whose IMAX theater introduced the film in June 1985), have allowed its release on cassette. Trouble is, not even the largest of home large-screen projection TVs can approximate the IMAX experience, causing the video Dream to lose its immediacy and I-am-the-camera thrills.
What’s left is a pleasant NASA promo piece, narrated by Walter Cronkite and showing shuttle astronauts in training and then engaging in such routinely spectacular mission activities as sleeping in zero gravity, repairing a satellite, and strolling in space. Dream’s special poignancy, of course, is that within a year of its release the space shuttle program was stricken by the Challenger disaster, which claimed the lives of two astronauts — Dick Scobee and Judith Resnik — shown here on earlier missions.