Posted on Monday, May 27th, 2013 by Germain Lussier
When we think of the Moon landing, we think about the ship, the astronauts, the historical significance, the international competition, maybe even some of the controversy. But how often do you think about the suits? Warner Bros. is hoping, in the next few years, that answer will be “a lot.”
The studio has hired Richard Cordiner to adapt a book by Nicholas de Monchaux called Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo. It’s the true story of a group of Playtex employees who conceived and created the iconic, 21-layer spacesuits enabling astronauts like Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to physically walk and survive in space.
Deadline broke the news of the deal.
Coming from the world of advertising, Cordiner is a relative newcomer to Hollywood. However, he wrote a script called The Shark Is Not Working about the behind the scenes drama of Steven Spielberg’s Jaws and that got him noticed.
As for Spacesuit, it sounds like a truly incredible story. Here’s the description from the book’s publisher:
When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped onto the lunar surface in July of 1969, they wore spacesuits made by Playtex: twenty-one layers of fabric, each with a distinct yet interrelated function, custom-sewn for them by seamstresses whose usual work was fashioning bras and girdles. This book is the story of those spacesuits. It is a story of the triumph over the military-industrial complex by the International Latex Corporation, best known by its consumer brand of “Playtex”—a victory of elegant softness over engineered hardness, of adaptation over cybernetics.
Playtex’s spacesuit went up against hard armor-like spacesuits designed by military contractors and favored by NASA’s engineers. It was only when those suits failed—when traditional engineering firms could not integrate the body into mission requirements—that Playtex, with its intimate expertise, got the job.
In Spacesuit, Nicholas de Monchaux tells the story of the twenty-one-layer spacesuit in twenty-one chapters addressing twenty-one topics relevant to the suit, the body, and the technology of the twentieth century. He touches, among other things, on eighteenth-century androids, Christian Dior’s New Look, Atlas missiles, cybernetics and cyborgs, latex, JFK’s carefully cultivated image, the CBS lunar broadcast soundstage, NASA’s Mission Control, and the applications of Apollo-style engineering to city planning. The twenty-one-layer spacesuit, de Monchaux argues, offers an object lesson. It tells us about redundancy and interdependence and about the distinctions between natural and man-made complexity; it teaches us to know the virtues of adaptation and to see the future as a set of possibilities rather than a scripted scenario.
And you can read more about it on the book’s official site.
Did you know about this piece of American history? Have you read the book?