Apollo 11: An Astonishing Journey Through The Heavens
Edited, produced, and directed by Todd Douglas Miller, Apollo 11 seeks to take us up close and personal to the last greatest feat in human achievement, the 1969 mission to put a man on the moon. Consisting solely of archival footage, including 70 mm film that was previously unreleased to the public, this documentary will have you feeling absolutely awestruck and inspired.
Apollo 11 is a cinematic space event film fifty years in the making, featuring never-before-seen large-format film footage of one of humanity's greatest accomplishments. The documentary provides a look at the Apollo 11 mission to land on the moon led by commander Neil Armstrong and pilots Buzz Aldrin & Michael Collins.
How will we ever manage to top the moon landing? It’s been 50 years, and we still haven’t managed to even come close to that kind of grand display of accomplishment, one which marked "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." The event captured the attention of the entire world, effectively ending the Space Race and fulfilling a national goal proposed in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy: "before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth." All of us probably know the story of the moon landing — it’s been taught in every history class and is the topic of countless documentaries and conspiracies over the years — but very few of us were alive to witness it, and even in the off chance that we were alive at the time of the moon landing, it’s highly probably we didn’t get the chance to see it like this.
Apollo 11 doesn’t add any new facts or aspects to Man’s journey to the moon, but it does offer a never-before-seen, close-up glimpse into the interior of the mission, from the cosmos to mission control. It’s very clean and smoothly stitched together, making good use of split-screen to give the journey more jet propulsion, and it’s accompanied by a perfectly synced score by Matt Morton consisting of droning synth, steady, driving minimal beats, and fragments of delicate piano, giving the film a sense of tension, suspense, awe, inspiration, and the fluttering sensation of nervous excitement.
I really like how Miller didn’t bother with shoehorning a narrative or diving into characters, all of which we pretty much know. It just sticks to the mission, and it does a very effective job of showing the massive breadth of the operation, full of multitudes or intelligent and driven individuals. By opting to not dive into the story, it allows the viewer an ample amount of time to soak in the imagery and reflect on Man’s most audacious leap forward, the height of human innovation.
The 70mm footage is GORGEOUS. Whomever shot the launch and control room footage truly had a cinematic eye. The colors pop. The level of detail is fine. You can see the pores of the moon just as you can the pores of the astronauts. It’s not always 100% captivating though. The flight through space in particular is a bit of a drag, but it opens fiercely and finishes strong.
Overall, Apollo 11 won’t tell you anything you don’t already know, but it will make you feel the event on a visceral level and see it with fresh perspective. My one true hope is that the film finally puts to bed the conspiracy theorists because it serves as fairly definitive evidence of the hard work many individuals put in to make this a reality. Skeptic or not, everyone should give it chance.
Recommendation: Definitely check it out in theaters if possible, but if you miss it, it’ll be screening in high school history classes from now until eternity.
Rating: 3.5 giant leaps outta 5.
What do you think? We you blown away by Apollo 11? Was it too slow or boring? We want to know. Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments section below, and as always, remember to viddy well!