Nasa has had a long and storied history of breaking ground and barriers regarding space exploration. The Apollo series of missions were groundbreaking considering where they ended up landing, the moon. The shuttle program was very good as well despite a couple of setbacks. There is one glaring omission in all the places we and other countries have failed to explore, and that is until now. Or rather very recently like the last ten years. Good Night Oppy is a film depicting that journey. The journey to Mars and what is sent back to Nasa.
Good Night Oppy is a documentary with a lot of talking heads spanning a decade or so of Nasa scientists, astrophysicists, and robotics men and women who embark on a mission to build two identical robots that are dubbed Spirit and Opportunity. Two Mars rovers that will span hundreds of miles of the surface of the red planet sending back many images to earth. What was supposed to happen and what ended up happening were two separate things though. And that is part of what makes this film so amazing.
The time the rovers were supposed to be on Mars and the time they actually spent there were vastly different. This helped send back much more information than Nasa thought they were going to get. Along the way, the journey of ups and downs of building these rovers and getting this mission set up and working was quite an arduous process. Each moment of success was a moment of joy. Sometimes there were moments when things didn’t go as planned but that strengthened the entire team involved in this mission’s resolve.
The director of this documentary has assembled hours of footage from the Mars rovers that have been able to be turned into a film. That is basically a beautiful exploration of the surface of Mars. The footage is breathtaking. It’s like we are actually there on Mars. The description of events from narrator Angela Bassett was pretty cool as well. How all of this was edited down to this two-hour film was amazing to me. But there is a great narrative to follow along with which is the journey of creation to the last days of the rovers.
A nice touch the filmmakers added was a good morning song from various members of the Mars rover Nasa team. They each got to choose a song to get up to and see what the rovers sent back to them overnight. And what they got more often than not was pretty spectacular. Sometimes the rovers would get into a predicament that would get the members of the team stressed out but they would have to work extra hard to help these rovers get out of trouble. That’s all part of the journey though and what made this movie more engaging with each minute that went by.
Good Night Oppy is one of if not the best documentaries I’ve seen all year along with Fire of Love. It shows the journey from the beginning to the end of this team of how this mission got started, how these rovers were built, and their mission of arriving on and exploring the red planet Mars. The talking heads all we’re fascinating people with interesting stories to follow along with. They all were very invested in this journey of discovery and while watching the film so was I. I hope everyone has a chance to see this film in the area or on Amazon Prime Video.
Dan Skip Allen