Shooting the Moon
The Dish
Review by Ross Anthony

Back in '69, the USA made good on its promise to put a man on the moon. This modest, yet charming, Australian comedy asks, "What's the primary purpose of that?" Then answers its own question, "Perhaps a live TV signal so that the entire world, all of mankind, could watch."

Since these signals can't bend around the Earth, the US needs a high performance communications dish on the other side of the planet. When the moon (and therefore Apollo XI) pass over the land down under, all eyes will be on a signal pulled out of the sky by a loveably real team of four gentlemen in a field of sheep. The patient dish director, with a pipe, is the heart of the team. His emotional and sharp-whitted right-hand man has a problem with the no-nonsense black-tied NASA American. The young engineer crunches numbers while wobbling weak in the knees over the local girl who brings the crew lunch.

Such involvement in the lunar landing is a scientist's dream. As the responsibility heats up the tension, bonds cement across our four leads. Meanwhile, the tiny town of Parkes, Australia prepares to be either exulted or embarrassed as obstacles mount, "He knows everything about Apollo 11 - does he know where it is?"

The local band of teens tunes up to play America's national anthem for the visiting US ambassador, but forgoes their own set up for the Jimi Hendrix (teeth to guitar) version. Any disappointment over that missed-op fades when the band's brass instead fires up the theme to "Hawaii Five-O."

This sharp-tongued small film is well directed, acted, cast, written, conceived and scored. The mayor and his family play perfect on the screen. Watching Armstrong take "One giant leap for mankind" on the telly in their living room crowded with neighbors will likely choke you up as it did I.

Quote from engineer Neil "Fox" Mason at the Dish's Control Desk in Parkes, Australia back in '69:

"Delivering the pictures to the world was my proudest moment. Apollo XI was a once in a lifetime experience and it was great listening to the original audio broadcast that is used in the movie. It brought back lots of memories. ... I think it's one of mankind's greatest achievements in the 20th century."

For an alternative perspective on the specifics of Australia's role in this mission check out Mike Dinn's interesting page on the topic:

  • The Dish. Copyright © 2001. Rated PG.
  • Starring Sam Neill, Kevin Harrington, Tom Long, Patrick Warburton, Genevieve Mody, Tayler Kane, Billie Brown, Roy Billing.
  • Directed by Rob Sitch.
  • Written and Produced by Santo Cilauro, Tom Gleiser, Jane Kennedy and Rob Sitch at Warner Bros/Working Dog/Distant Horizon.


Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit:

chili4 special olympians
power5 ra hforh radiop

Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:13:19 PDT