‘Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood’ or ‘Apollo 10½’ is the 21st feature film by Richard Linklater. The story is set during the 1969 Apollo 11 Moon landing and revolves around an elementary school student named Stan or Stanley (Milo Coy). Stan’s father works at NASA, like many other adults from their neighborhood. As the day of the historic launch approaches, Stan begins to imagine himself as an astronaut, who gets recruited by NASA to travel to the Moon as part of the extremely covert Apollo 10 ½ Mission.
The film is as much of a celebration of the moon landing as it is of 1960s Houston. Returning to the world of animation after ‘Waking Life’ and ‘A Scanner Darkly,’ Linklater creates the suburbia of a bygone era in vivid detail. But at the same time, he doesn’t fail to remind his audience of the troubles that were brewing in other places in America. The film is narrated by an older version (Jack Black) of Stan. If the candidness of the narrative and the presence of a protagonist-narrator have made you wonder whether ‘Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood’ is based on Linklater’s life, this is what you need to know.
Is Apollo 10 1/2 Based on the True Story of Richard Linklater’s Life?
‘Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood’ is partly based on the true story of Linklater’s childhood. Linklater wrote and co-produced the project besides directing it. He revealed in an interview that he first thought of the idea in 2004, adding, “It was while I was making ‘Boyhood’ when I first thought about it and I was like ‘that was an amazing time (to be a kid).’ That’s when we landed on the Moon. And then I remembered this fantasy I had of… this kid in space, kind of ridiculous. I mean, in the tangible world, it’s ridiculous, right? But it’s with a kid and I actually had that fantasy.”
“It’s such a privilege to get to make a film that not only recreates a moment in time but also recreates footage from Houston in the late ’60s,” the ‘Bernie’ director elaborated. “And so it’s that same kid fantasy of ‘Harry Potter’ or ‘Princess Diaries’ or something like that where the bigger world kind of needs you… So it’s a childhood fantasy: not only are you chosen but you’re needed to save or help our country. It’s funny, but the trick in the movie is to play that very straight.”
Although Linklater admitted that ‘Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood’ is an “embarrassingly personal” film, he clarified that it didn’t mean that Stan was his doppelganger. Stan is actually a composite character made up of the experiences of Linklater, his family, and his friends. He filled up the gaps in his memories by speaking to his siblings.
Moreover, Linklater didn’t attend Ed White Elementary School, nor did his father work for NASA. He wanted to make an entertaining movie above everything else, so he drew from the lives of people beyond his family. For instance, producer and Linklater’s friend Mike Blizzard attended Ed White. His experience there was used while developing Stan as a character.
The movie was predominantly developed at Robert Rodriguez’s Troublemaker Studios in Austin, Texas. However, Linklater and his team made use of numerous videos sent by people that lived in Houston in the 1960s. Clearly, ‘Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood’ is based on Linklater’s life to a degree. It also draws from an assortment of other sources to create a wholesome narrative.