Apollo 11

Apollo 11 ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Director: Todd Douglas Miller. Cast Neil ArmstrongMichael CollinsBuzz Aldrin 

There are different kind of documentaries. Those where you learn about something or somebody you didn’t know. Those where they expose some sort of scandal, or crime. The historic ones with interviews from experts. And those where are essentially they just “show you” an event… and that’s pretty much it. 

Apollo 11 is one of those latter ones. A lot of care and attention has gone in meticulously collecting more than 11,000 hours of NASA audio recordings (which apparently they didn’t even know they had), painstakingly editing a huge amount of film material, including some never-before-seen 65mm footage recently discovered in National Archives. In fact there is so much stuff that sometime they have to split the screen to show you 2 or 3 shots at the same time.

The footage does indeed look beautifully and if it wasn’t for the technology seen on screen and the 60s clothes it would look like it was filmed yesterday.

As for the film itself, listening to the voices from the control room or from the spaceship (I really had to put up the subtitles because most of it is pretty garbled), seeing all those technicians at work and the general public from the time as they watch the event can be quite a mesmerising experience, but also quite or boring one if I have to be honest.

The lack of interviews or even simply voices from the time telling about their feelings and thoughts makes this a strangely cold experience. Those astronauts remain aloof, just distant figures from whom we learn nothing about themselves and their experience.

I understand this is not what the film set out to be but I can’t help feeling that in those 11,000 hours of recording there must have been something else which would have made this more alive for me. 

So as an act of film preservation, Apollo 11 is one for the history books for sure. Beyond that and the fact that it looks beautiful, there are dozens of other films about the moon landing where you might learn more. I found films like (the delightful) “The Dish” or the documentary “For All Mankind” much more engaging, infinitely more entertaining and dare-I-say… moving.

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