A Million Miles Away (2023)

Movie Info

Movie Info

Alejandra Márquez Abella
Run Time
2 hours and 1 minute

VP Content Ratings

Sex & Nudity
Star Rating
★★★★4.5 out of 5

Relevant Quotes

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,

Hebrews 12:1
Young José Hernandez may be a crop picker, but he has big dreams centering on NASA.     (c) Amazon Studios

The true story of José Hernandez (Michael Peña) is a good example of the kind of perseverance that author of Hebrews urges. It is interesting that at the same time the movie The Hill celebrates the impossible dream of a crippled boy, director-cowriter Alejandra Márquez Abella brings us this true story of a Mexican American son of migrants who dreams of rocketing into space as a NASA astronaut.

Early on there is worry that the boy might not even learn to read because his family has to pull up stakes every few weeks or months and move on to where the crop-picking work is available. Fortunately, one of his teachers, aware of the boy’s potential, comes knocking at the door to convince the parents that hey need to find other week so their son can acquire a good education. Salvador, the father (Julio Cesar Cedillo), politely tells her that they must keep on the move because of his work. Soon they are doing just that.

But then Salvador apparently has second thoughts, and he decides to look for year around work and rent a house so that the family can settle down. The boy’s dream of rocketing high above the earth is nurtured by the coverage of the space launches he sees on TV. But to others it seems impossible that the son of a lowly migrant worker should aspire to be an astronaut.

The years go by, and the young man graduates from college and then a master’s program, becoming an electrical engineer at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. He starts what will become a long series of applications to be accepted into NASA’s space program, but time after time is turned down. By now married to Adela (Rosa Salazar) and with children, he is told by his wife to ask himself what those who are accepted have that he does not. Realizing that many are pilots, he takes flying lessons, and he learns to be a scuba diver as well. Finally, he travels to NASA HQ where he insists on talking to the head recruiter. In 2004 he is accepted. The training is long and difficult, he almost washing out, but at last earns his place in a space mission.

Hernandez achieves his dream.  (c) Amazon Studios

One touch that I hope is true is the appearance of that teacher who first saw potential in him. Apparently having kept in touch, she has been invited to join his proud family in watching the launch. For me, a sucker for caring teacher films, this was more moving even than José’s actual launch.

This great story of the first migrant farmworker to become an astronaut must be inspiring to those not used to seeing Hispanics in space. José Hernandez is a true trail blazer, whose life is well worth celebrating.

This review is in the Sept. issue of VP along with a set of questions for reflection and/or discussion. If you have found reviews on this site helpful, please consider purchasing a subscription or individual issue in The Store.

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