Monday, July 7, 2014

In the Shadow of the Moon (2007)

In the Shadow of the MoonBy now we've taken the achievements of space for granted. In some ways our world, even our universe, has become smaller and bigger at the same time. What makes David Sington's `In the Shadow of the Moon' so wonderful is how it relaunches our awe for those incredible moments when a handful of men actually reached the moon. The film rekindles those memories when a few astronauts found themselves walking upon and discovering a completely different heavenly body as no time before or since.

Using 'The Right Stuff' they interview several of the astronauts who reached--or nearly reached--the moon from 1968-1972; the documentary is mesmerizing for its close-up shots from liftoffs to moon landings. Interspersed are relaxed and frank discussions by the aging men who brought our native satellite back home to the whole world. Unsurprisingly, their memories are vivid and detailed. Surprisingly, there's so much more terrain covered on this endeavor than previous movie visits. Some of the documentary shows the world's reaction to those marvelous moments.

Too many details should never be divulged, for that's an insult to the heart. But in general terms, we get recollections of how these men reacted to their experiences. Without deception or evasion, they recall palpable danger at every turn and the inner workings of fear, awe, and decisiveness which met their challenges. Putting things in perspective, Michael Collins reflects that the moon looked like an "inhospitable, hostile, scary, place". Many anecdotes fill us in on the behind-the-scenes drama at NASA. Even the mundane details are fascinating.

There are many advantages to seeing this film in the theatre, but it's still great for home viewing, especially for those with HD or widescreens. The close-up shots are ample and sometimes vertiginous. Philip Sheppard's often changing and rapturous score works like Sington's directing and David Fairhead's editing to bring the glory of the past all back home.

Reaction can be like one astronaut who relates that his father was born just days after The Wright Brother's flight, and he reflects his father couldn't believe we were going to the moon, while his young son was far less impressed. Maybe like Apollo 11 itself, `In the Shadow of the Moon' can reunite everyone of every generation and renew their perspective on a breakthrough that we all too easily and too often dismiss as passé.

(Admirably, they keep the presentation tight, but the "Bonus Features" are excellent. Even when they're not essential, they're always interesting. There's over an hour of extra material [so it's not correct to say these are merely "Deleted Scenes"]. Besides a short interview with Ron Howard, there's a twelve minute segment on Philip Sheppard's creation of his exquisite score and plenty of other anecdotes to spare. Portions elaborate on the astronauts first role in The Cold War, and others continue to keep us marveling, especially Jim Lovell's testimony about the harrowing Apollo 13 journey. There are plenty of fascinating features.)

It makes such a refreshing change to see a documentary that is not out to make a scandal, reveal a conspiracy, or trick people into making fools of themselves.

This is a real treat, to watch a straightforward telling of the conquest of the moon, not from the technical perspective but from a very human perspective, using a combination of NASA photography, period newsreels, and most crucially, interviews with the surviving Apollo astronauts, with the exception of the notoriously reclusive Neil Armstrong.

There are no tricks being used here in the telling of the tales just fantastic lingering shots of the moon as seen by the astronauts, and their very personal memories, told with candour and warmth. We learn how human they felt the `right stuff' persona is taken off for a moment, and we see just how in awe they were and still areof what they were part of. This is all put in perspective of not just the space race of the 60's, but the Vietnam war which some felt guilty to be exempted from.

On a lighter note, we learn who was the first astronaut to pee on the moon, and the nervous moment when the moon land speed record was broken in the lunar buggy at a breakneck speed of 18 kmh...

It's hard not to be a little moved by the stories being told, and the iconic shots of earthrise and the surface of the moon will blow you away, as the unhurried pace draws you through the events leading up to and during the landings.

Highly recommended.

Buy In the Shadow of the Moon (2007) Now

I thought this movie was a wonderful introduction to the Apollo moon landings, really showing the human side of the experience and providing a wonderful general overview of the achievements. I saw it on the movie screen and highly recommend it.

I also really liked the book of the same title, by C. Burgess and F. French, that not only covers the early Apollo flights, but also delves into the preceding flights, and what the Soviets were up to at that time. In the book, I learned about the early lives and early flights of these astronauts, and what it was like to be in the moment of flying the missions. In the movie, I learned what these guys look like today, and how they feel reflecting back on their experiences. Both movie and book were perfect for their medium, and great accompaniments to each other.

Highly recommend both book and movie, and suggest experiencing both!!!!!

Read Best Reviews of In the Shadow of the Moon (2007) Here

The truth is, everyone should have seen this in a theater on a LARGE screen (IMAX would have been ideal). This film is so breathtaking and beautiful, replete with never-before-seen footage that will mesmerize you. I saw this with an audience that was cheering at the end!! It's that great, and will very likely be a staple of classrooms everywhere the filmmaking is first-rate and is probably the best work of its kind. The historical value of this project can't be overestimated since most of those who walked on the Moon speak warmly in interviews (looking into the camera) of what it was like. Don't think twice: buy this it is absolutely essential viewing.

Want In the Shadow of the Moon (2007) Discount?

I was fortunate to be invited to preview this film in April of 2007 while attending the International Space Symposium in Colorado Springs. Buzz Aldrin, at age 77, flew in to introduce the film to an audience of space professionals involved with planning our manned mission to Mars. Buzz is full of energy, sharp, creative, and humorous and still an avid champion of space exploration. He is a true national treasure.

The film was remarkable! It was full of personal and never before told stories shared by our first moonwalkers talking directly to the camera with no scripted questions...just personal moments of their unique experience in Space. The film was entertaining, full of high quality film clips recorded years ago as historical documentation of astounding achievement. The editing of this natural and unscripted story telling by each of our most memorable astronauts flowed so precisely that I forgot it was a documentary. The high quality theatrical sound of firing red hot rocket thrusters and the sounds of fearful and critical life or death minutes at Mission Control had the audience gasping with relief when the exact moment of success and salvation for these dangerous missions were achieved.

I cannot say enough to convey the experience of this film. We all left the theater realizing that the moon landings were the greatest achievements of the American spirit in the Twentieth Century.

I was 19 years young when I first felt the pride of our first moon landing. I arrived home on leave from Marine Corps boot camp, at the peak of the Vietnam War, just an hour before Neil Armstrong stepped out of the Lunar Landing Module. I have a photo of myself standing next to our television and still dressed in my uniform as I did not want to change clothes and miss a moment of that moon landing. The live image of the moon landing can be seen clearly on the TV screen captured in my photo. Unfortunately I will be 77 years old, at the earliest possible date, to feel that kind of national pride again....when we put our first team on the surface of Mars. Our nation needs strong national leadership to make the first manned mission to Mars a reality...this film reminds us of all these things.

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