TIFF ’22: Good Night Oppy

I love documentaries about space exploration, the sense of discovery, wonder and hope that permeates them, and humanity when we set our sights on a goal. Director Ryan White understands those feelings and shares them, and guides us on a fantastic journey to the planet Mars.

In 2003, two rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, were launched on a mission of discovery to the Red Planet. They were designed, developed, programmed, constructed, and sent on their way. The plan was for them to last 90 sols (Mars day is a little longer than Earth standard), documenting a search for evidence of water on the planet, and what that could mean.

Angela Bassett provides narration for the rovers, as we join them on their exploration, and with the cinema magic of Industrial Light and Magic delivering viewers a photo-real Mars, Oppy and Spirit, the rovers take on a sense of personality and individuality that endears them not only to NASA but the world as a whole.

Things begin to take off when both rovers survive longer than they were scheduled to and despite problems and technical mishaps, tackle their mission with gusto, with Opportunity lasting fifteen years past its expected end date.

White masterfully, and comprehensively takes us through the years, the crews that made it happen, the adventures, discoveries, wonders, heartbreaks, and the final goodbyes.

Films like this bring me such joy, fill my eyes with tears of pride with each success, and I grieve with each loss. Our future is among the stars if we survive our growth spurts, and these are the people who are working towards it.

We’re heading back to the moon, and then from there, it’s got to be Mars! And then Spirit and Oppy can be reunited with the people who sent them. Such a great film, and should definitely be seen on a big screen.

Good Night Oppy plays on Wednesday the 14th at the Cinesphere, and Saturday the 17th at Scotiabank.

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