Richard Linklater’s ‘Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood’ Looks Like A One-Of-A-Kind Animated Film
Netflix has released a trailer for Richard Linklater’s Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood, debuting April 1 on the streamer and it looks like one of the first must-see American animated features of 2022.
Linklater, who grew up in NASA’s hometown of Houston, Texas, during the 1960s space era, drew on his personal memories of “how exciting it was to be a kid at that moment.” He describes the film as such:
After the years of work on Apollo 10 1/2, I think everyone involved is excited to take folks on these intermingled journeys – one a young astronaut’s trip to the moon, and another that runs hand-in-hand with him and his family in the suburbs near NASA. I wanted it to be many things at once: a re-creation, a fantasy, and a memoir of ephemera, and making a large portion of the film during these dark and unsettling last two years only sharpened our focus as to what were primarily trying to share in this story, namely the hope, optimism, communal spirit, and creativity of that time.
Despite his reputation as a live-action director, Linklater is no stranger to animation and has previously directed two well received animated features, Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly. Many are pointing out that Apollo 10½ uses the same interpolated rotoscoping technique as those earlier films, but Linklater says that technique wasn’t possible in a story “where everything had to be designed and created,” adding that “to achieve all the necessary textures (vintage period, comic book, newsreel documentary, grandiose fantasy, realistic character piece), it would require a playful combination of various techniques such as 3D and some minimal performance capture within the character animation.”
He says that one of the biggest graphic challenges of making the film was imbuing the era’s analog influence into the all-digital process:
The beautiful look of Kodachrome film is where we started. We decided to animate on 2s to give it a retro feel and chose handmade animation over digital effects. We thought of new ways to show the different textures and designs to mirror the analog world and subjective and creative memory of Stan. Classic animated films of the past and Saturday morning cartoons of the 60’s were a big inspiration as well. We also invited our animators to leave their fingerprints on the film and celebrate the collective creativity of our artists and feel their impressions all over the film.
The results look grounded in reality in a way that most animated features aren’t, with a deep nostalgia for a specific time and place that is rooted in both memory and fantasy, or as Linklater puts it “the memory of a fantasy.”
Linklater wrote and directed the film. He also produced alongside Mike Blizzard, Tommy Pallotta, Femke Wolting, and Bruno Felix. The executive producer is John Sloss.
The film’s voice cast includes Milo Coy, Lee Eddy, Bill Wise, Natalie L’Amoreaux, Josh Wiggins, Sam Chipman, Jessica Brynn Cohen, Danielle Guilbot, Zachary Levi, Glen Powell, and Jack Black.