British Documentarian David Sington has assembled together all the old codgers from the Apollo space missions (with Neil Armstrong conspicuously absent) to tell their stories. These craggy-faced old Yanks make for good company, providing humorous observations and moving philosophies about their voyages that took place between 1968 and 1972.
But the real appeal of this excellent documentary is various never-seen-before footage of the moon landings, remastered to near-pristine condition. One particular highlight shows a dune buggy racing around the dusty grey lunar landscape under a pitch-black sky.
There are other interesting tidbits provided for a 21st Century audience, such as an old advertisement which shows Kellogs as a sponsor of the first moon landing, and a glimpse of President Nixon’s unbroadcast speech, prepared in case the Apollo 11 crew carked it.
The lack of narration means the veteran astronauts take centre stage; their insider knowledge providing us with all the tension we need. Their sharp memories, combined with a judicious selection of stunning archival footage, combine to create a palpable sense of tension. I had to hold on to my seat during the lift-off sequence.
It’s fascinating to hear the astronauts talking about their experience of seeing the earth from afar, looking like a jewel hanging in space. Some seem profoundly changed by it. This may be why Neil Armstrong refuses to take part in media discussions. Perhaps the extraterrestrial excursion had some sort of unnerving spiritual impact on him. We will never know for sure, but after watching this cracking documentary, I certainly felt the same way.