In the Shadow of the Moon (2007) Poster

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The human side of the Moon
Kevin W. Parker20 July 2007
There have been many documentaries about the technical issues of getting to the Moon, but this one focuses more on how the astronauts felt about it all. At turns funny (Buzz Aldrin admits he relieved himself right before stepping on the Moon because it was about the only spare time he was going to have for the next two hours), inspiring (Jim Lovell talking about reading from Genesis while orbiting the Moon), and poignant (several of the astronauts talk about the Apollo 1 fire), it's a riveting piece of film-making.

The footage itself switches between the "talking heads" of the astronauts and imagery depicting what they're talking about, loosely following the chronology of the space age, from Kennedy's declaration of the ambition to go to the Moon to the later Apollo missions with the lunar rover. There aren't any revelations in the mission footage, but then all that's been combed over many times. However, it's well put together and everything is tied in.

I got to see this film at a special showing at the Goddard Space Flight Center. When the film was over, the auditorium full of space geeks gave the director a standing ovation. I think it was well-deserved. While he humbly noted "It's you rocket scientists who really did this - I just put a film together," perhaps - as he also noted - this film will help inspire another generation as we take the next great leap into space, this time to Mars.
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Reveals the Heart of the Astronauts
pbernhardt28 January 2007
Saw this film at Sundance, the screening reserved for the Grand Jury World Documentary Award Winner. Wow! I have seen many of the preceding documentaries on the history of the American space program, the Apollo program in particular. Where this documentary exceeds all previous efforts was in revealing the humanity of the astronauts. Most other documentaries focus on the politics which motivated and technical hurdles overcome in the American space program. David Sington brilliantly uses only the astronauts voices for narration of facts and more with newly released footage from NASA, as well as a lot of footage we've all seen before. Because of the free rein given to the astronauts in the interviews, you see many sides of each revealed. For instance, Mike Collins (who has heretofore rarely been interviewed) reveals wonderful humor and joy in his accomplishments. You find out more about their worries and fears, how they look back on their work and what they were thinking at the time. They are all revealed as nice guys with whom you would want to spend an afternoon.

Strangely absent, but it works well in the end, was Armstrong. He gives virtually no interviews. In a way, having everyone else talk about him is maybe better than him talking.

And, the various conspiracy theories are dealt with in the end credits. This is a great place to do it. In films we sometimes see the end credits used for humorous out-takes, epilogue commentary, and so forth. By dealing with the conspiracy theories in an appended manner during the credits, the film refuses to elevate them to the level of legitimacy that the remainder of the facts and biographical material, yet still dismisses them. The single best dismissal is this: If it was all faked, why did they fake it so many times? Wouldn't once have been enough?

See this film when it comes to your neighborhood theater, as it has been announced as having a distribution deal. It is worth seeing on the big screen for its amazing visuals.
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Very Interesting, But Armstrong Was Missed
ccthemovieman-127 March 2008
This recently-released documentary had some fantastic footage in it, and a very personal look at many of the astronauts who went to the moon. Overall, that is a very exclusive club: only about a dozen men ever did it in the history of the world and just eight or nine ever stepped foot on it. Most of them are still alive and they discuss their adventures, insights and personal feelings here.

One gets the feeling that the rest of us will never know exactly how beautiful the moon is except to take the astronauts' words about it, because even the pictures on this DVD can't convey that. It just looks dull and gray, but the men say it was spectacular. I believe them.

Since this documentary is about 100 minutes long, you get a lot of information. You also get reminded how close two of the three men who went up on that historic first walk on the moon almost didn't get home alive.

A glaring absence in this documentary - through no fault of the film-makers, is the most famous astronaut of them all: Neil Armstrong, the first man to step foot on the moon! Apparently, he did not want to be part of this film. One of the astronauts, near the very end of this documentary, mentions something briefly about Armstrong being somewhat of a "recluse" now and it "being understandable with what he's gone through." From what I've read, a lot of people have tried to make money off him in shady ways and so now he's withdrawn from the public spotlight. Still, not having his thoughts on this historic mission is a real loss to this film and makes this story seem incomplete.

After a slow first half hour, this really picks up when we travel along with Armstrong's Apollo 11 crew. Seeing slow-motion pictures of the lift-off and great shots of the earth are just awesome. The worldwide reaction to the success of this mission will bring a tear or two to your eyes.

This film, a legacy to the Apollo program and the brave men who ran it, should be in every schoolroom. It would make history a lot more interesting to students.
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When We Were Winners
Half_the_Audience6 September 2007
I don't admit this to too many people, but the single most significant historic event I have ever "witnessed," was watching the first lunar landing as it happened, on television, as a ten year old kid. Okay, maybe there was a thirteen-second delay, but I was right there with those guys-- my heart pounding, skipping a beat every time Uncle Walter (a.k.a. Walter Cronkite, the most trusted man in America) interjected his incomparably eloquent journalistic commentary. But even Cronkite couldn't suppress his awe as mankind's greatest achievement unfolded before our eyes.

The documentary, "In the Shadow of the Moon," directed by David Sington, and presented by Ron Howard (who partnered with ThinkFilm to help usher the project to completion), is not only a romantic, dramatic, suspense-filled fantasy to behold, it grips you with deep emotion and vests you with our heroes through every sequence of their quest. And it's all real.

Without a single frame of CGI or simulation, the filmmakers compiled astounding, never-before seen footage with inserts of intimate confessions by some of the remaining Apollo crew members who took part in the nine moon landings. "Shadow" shows just part of how the work of 400,000 scientists and engineers came together to make President Kennedy's dream of putting a man on the moon by the end of the decade, a reality. These are parts worth seeing.

"The extraterrestrial film footage, shot by the astronauts themselves, has been brought out of storage only a handful of times since the sixties and seventies," Chris Riley, the film's co-producer explains. Considering that there may not be any more footage shot on or from the moon by an actual human, again in our lifetime, this film is very precious indeed.

"In the Shadow of the Moon" effectively evokes that brief time in late-20th century America when we thought that the government was doing something right. This documentary puts a human face-- and soul-- into those bulky space suits, and let's us know what it was really like to be on those harrowing missions.

Command module pilot Michael Collins admits to having being excited, but not fearful. At times, mostly worried-- that all the machinery would work as planned. The documentary reveals a few of those times the machines didn't, or almost didn't work. And startlingly, how much "luck" played a part in the operations. "Shadow" nearly gives us a first-person experience of how a body feels, what the physical sensations of being shaken, slammed, and thrust-- first off the ground, then through the atmosphere, finally into the eerie calm and quiet of space. The men talk of how they felt a fool's complacency, if only for a second, after a rocket stage would break away and fall to earth, until anticipation of the next stage's violent expulsion reminded them that it too, would detach as planned, or explode killing them all. It makes the Space Mountain ride at DisneyWorld sound like a massage.

Although Neil Armstrong, known to be somewhat of a recluse, does not make an appearance, he is certainly there in spirit. His fellow crew members make it known they felt he was the right choice for the first man out. That he was preternaturally calm under pressure, they concur. Recollecting how Armstrong delivered those poignant first words as he descended the steps of the LEM, and how it might have been more tempting for them to simply yell, "Whoopee! I did it!" But Buzz Aldrin asserts that he also holds a record for a lunar first. In one of the many hilarious moments in the film, his feat is captured on video as proof.

Most of the men who went on the Apollo moon missions tell in this film, of the moment while in space, viewing the galaxy from a perspective very few of us will ever see, they experienced the profound realization of their own insignificance, while comforted with a certainty of infinite connectivity with the very stuff of the universe. Contrast that with the "hero's parades" and instant celebrity into which they were violently thrust upon return to terra firma. Additionally, some of the astronauts confess the guilt they felt, knowing that many of the pilots and friends they had trained and served with, were being "shot at, shot down, and were fighting for their country" in Viet Nam.

Some might have viewed America's race to the moon was little more than a diversion, cleverly orchestrated by government propagandists, from the colossal turmoil of the times. Others, saw it as a symbol of hope-- that there was something greater beyond our mere earthly squabbles.

Watching this film reminded me of what America is capable-- how much can be accomplished in the interest of science, ecology, or the most human of natures, curiosity-- not to be underrated. Present and future resources, research, and funding if thoughtfully channeled, just might be able to find alternate sources of energy, cure cancer, and save the planet from ecological disaster.

President Kennedy foresaw that the way out of the Post-War confusion and the Cold War paranoia, was to coach us back to the top of our game. Just a few years before what would eventually become the debacle of Viet Nam, this was perhaps one of the last times America truly was champion of the world. Getting to the moon made us feel like winners. We were proud. I still am.
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Heavenly coverage
D A14 February 2008
Powerfully put together NASA documentary highlights Apollo 11's historic run amongst other aged adventurers often stirring recollections.

Undoubtedly this is some of the finest public extraterrestrial footage ever married into film, and for that alone this noble salute to a bygone America and the heroes that inhabited it is a must see. Taking a trip to the moon with these brave astronauts has never been captured as intimately, helping viewers begin to feel what it must be like to be looking down from space like never before.

Combined with excellent musical scoring, David Sington's emotional remembrance and vicarious lift-offs belongs in many, many star watcher's collections.
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This was on of the best documentaries I've ever seen....
hairyfeetdb114 April 2007
And I mean it. The footage and stories in this movie were like nothing I've ever seen. Nor have many others because this film includes new footage and stories of the Apollo space missions never seen nor heard. I went to an advance screening at the Sarasota Film Festival and I was extremely impressed as was the rest of the crowd. There was a very long standing ovation at the end of the movie. The film includes at least one member from each of the Apollo missions telling there stories of the process they went through while preparing to land on the moon. It contains the remarkable footage filmed by the crew members of each mission. If you truly want to be left see a movie that will leave you full of excitement and amaze you must see this movie. The host of the film said this film was the reason movies should be made and he was nothing short of the truth.
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A wonderful legacy for the Apollo Program
andy-140018 April 2007
Bravo to everyone involved in this great film. I just caught it at the 16th Philadelphia Film Festival. Director David Sington answered questions eloquently and patiently as I sat stunned after the film. Having read every Apollo astronaut biography I know to exist I didn't think I'd learn much in the way of facts from the movie, but it turns out there were a couple of things. It is great to see these men who gave so much to my generation talking about the experience decades later. They are wiser and gentler people than when they flew the spacecraft. Sington stated that he wanted to show the events from the point of view of the astronauts. He succeeds, and the experience is moving and meaningful to everyone who looked out from this world in a state of wonder. The Apollo program remains something similar to Leonardo's sketch of a helicopter--an idea ahead of its time technologically, politically and economically, here at the very start of humanity's adventure in the Universe, only a few thousand years after we started using agriculture and so on. When future generations wonder what was going on during the Apollo decade I think this movie is one of the things they'll be looking at.
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Out of this world
jdesando29 August 2007
From 1969 to 1972, America put 12 men on the moon in nine missions. Eight of the surviving crew members (notably absent is the reclusive Neil Armstrong) talk about their adventures in the documentary In the Shadow of the Moon with less of the engineering and more of the philosophy, a bit different from the dramatic renditions of The Right Stuff, Apollo 13, and HBO'S From Earth to the Moon.

The excellence of this version is the articulate, close up, talking heads of the astronauts, who are more handsome in their late 70's than they were in their late 20's, a testimony to space athletes who keep themselves fit forever. Besides their reflective narrations (for instance, Mike Collins is full of insights and glamorous details, Jim Lovell could do color commentary for any network), the photography, some of it never seen from NASA archives, is memorable. The earth as blue bubble is beautiful.

The documentary strays somewhat from the reality base by peppering the denouement with sappy, semi-religious contemplations from the narrators about "God's work" and the "fragility" motif. But all in all, this Ron Howard production is a first-rate retrospective about an era for which Americans should be proud—the contrast between the visionary Kennedy and the current blind Bush is painful. Maybe we should send him to the moon?
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Apollo Comes To Life Again
Matthew Kresal3 October 2007
The Apollo moon landings of the late 1960's and early 1970's have been the subject of countless documentaries over the nearly forty years since they occurred. Of all of them, only two films have captured the spirit of Apollo and of the men who took the journey. One of them is Al Reinert's 1989 masterpiece For All Mankind. The other is this film: In The Shadow Of The Moon. And this film easily rivals For All Mankind for the position of best Apollo documentary.

This film takes the idea behind For All Mankind and takes it to the next level. For All Mankind showed us the astronauts as they were then with narration from interviews. In The Shadow Of The Moon, as I wrote, goes the next step further. It shows the astronauts not only as they were, but as they are now. The difference is often times amazing. To go from young fighter pilot to being one of the few men to have left our planet must have been an amazing journey as the film shows and these men prove it. Like For All Mankind, their narration and appearances are the heart and soul of the story being told.

The body of the story is the footage. Where as For All Mankind brilliantly combined all the footage into one large mission, this film doesn't to a degree. It shows us highlights from the program including Apollo 8 and Apollo 11 and then makes a conscience effort not to confuse missions together. This allows for clarity that many have complained about being missing from For All Mankind. But this clarity also allows for something else as well. It allows for depth in story.

That depth can be felt. The truly great thing about this film is that these images, which so many of us are use to seeing on a small television screen, are shown on a big screen. Only on a big screen can one see and feel the depth of the journey that was Apollo. The film has the ability to take images seen many times and bring context and emotion to them. In particular, the footage and still images of the Earth as taken by the astronauts is awe-inspiring. In fact, seeing the famous Earth-rise image from Apollo 8 brought me to tears. And for once, I am not ashamed to admit it.

To be frank, In The Shadow Of The Moon is an amazing piece of work. Not since For All Mankind as a film of any size, shape, or form captured the spirit of Apollo. This is a film about a dream, the men who lived it, and its legacy not only for them but for us as well. I beg you to see this film. Only after that and viewing For All Mankind can one understand not only the legacy of Apollo but our need to explore Space.
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Extremely entertaining with incredible footage
Jeff Beachnau4 September 2007
I saw this at the Traverse City Film Festival and it was quite the thrill.

Another great documentary about the Apollo program and the astronauts that went to the moon. Some very interesting and inspiring interviews including incredible actual footage of the Apollo 11 mission as it traveled from the Earth to the Moon.

The film contains interviews from many of the astronauts, Mike Collins (the astronaut from Apollo 11 that didn't walk on the moon) was probably the highlight, he was so funny and entertaining. I was a little disappointed that Neil Armstrong wasn't interviewed, but oh well, it was still very good.

Captivating, fun, and an excellent score, I'm sure people will enjoy this well made film.
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Film = same old stuff; DVD Extras = gold!
revere-74 February 2009
This documentary covers the conquest of space, focusing on the U.S.A.'s Apollo missions. Squeaky clean, and straightforward by-the-numbers, chronological retelling of the lunar missions featuring interviews with some of the astronauts (Neil Armstrong is notably absent), and some great NASA film footage. Unfortunately, for anyone familiar with the space program, this is all pretty much familiar information, well-worn and well documented in the past. It would make a nice presentation at aerospace museums.

However, the special features on the DVD are what's really worth seeing! The interviews that didn't make the final cut. These are fascinating, and sometimes dark moments that include the astronauts' ruminations on the Cold War, Korea, the Russian space program, and other topics such as the death of astronauts in the line of duty, all the broken marriages and strained relationships, alcoholism, equipment failures, a more in depth look at the events of Apollo 13, pilot errors, profanity over com radios, the disappointments, practical jokes, difficulty adjusting to civilian life, and the general hopes, fears, and dreams of these first space pioneers.
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They said they would and they did!
Andy Howlett1 June 2008
Oh Lord, this film (and The Right Stuff and From the Earth to The Moon) put a lump in my throat from the very beginning. It is an unashamed, reverential tribute to the Men who put personal safety aside to push the boundaries of scientific progress to their very limits, and of a World that looked on in awe and wonder. Whatever else you may say about the USA, it must be admitted that its people are patriotic, proud and positive. If something is to be done they get to it, rather than looking for reasons not to. President JF Kennedy made the promise to 'land a man on the Moon within this decade..' and it was done at breakneck speed, despite much of the required technology not even being invented yet. I was a sixteen year old lad at the time of Apollo 11, and I stayed up through the night to watch live coverage on the TV. I even made a tape recording of the landing. Gosh, what a time it was! Looking at the worldwide 'vox pop' comments in the film, it is amazing how supportive the other nations were - this in contrast to the divided, spiteful negativity against the USA we see today. When 'we' place a permanent base on the Moon or finally land on Mars, it will be the Americans that do it. This film proudly (and rightly) brings home to the world the importance of their achievements so far. An excellent 100 minutes.
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A great reminder of why we used to love America
lololuvemma26 March 2008
This movie is a great re/minder of why a lot of people around the world grew up loving America.

Amazing technical and human achievement. This was talking to the hearts and souls of people, not to their wallets.

I was looking up to the States as the country that can do no wrong. If you can send men on the moon, how can you not save your people dying in the streets?

How can you not predict 9/11?

How can you take a week to save your people in New Orleans?

How can you not know that Iraq did not have any WOMD?
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For space aficionados, this is as up close and personal as it gets!
Sebastian196623 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Just came home from seeing this new documentary IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON. And I will say, as a lifelong space program enthusiast(although not a huge fan of the shuttle/station milk runs) I already knew a lot of the main facts presented in the film. I've seen many of these missions reviewed in countless texts and on the Discover channel. But, seeing it in a theater made a great difference! And the candor of the astronauts in this particular doc was unique (not just the usual, dry fact recitation). Buzz Aldrin's "pit-stop" while climbing down on to the lunar surface, for example (Alan Shepard had a similar issue on the launchpad awaiting his Mercury flight). More importantly, the tales of travel to another world are told with a folksy humor and a hindsight wisdom that was like hearing firsthand history told by a favorite uncle! The feelings and emotions of space travel are related in a more honest way than I've usually seen. Men like Buzz Aldrin, Mike Collins (a very easygoing, funny man), Eugene Cernan (the last man to walk on the moon; Apollo 17), Alan Bean, Dave Scott and many others' tales are illustrated with raw, end-of-reel footage that, while grainy and a little fuzzy by modern I-Max standards, brings the stories to vivid life. Some of this footage I have NEVER seen (and trust me, I've seen MANY space documentaries!). On a sad note, when the movie began and the astronauts' faces appeared, a few young people in the theater got up and left. They probably thought the title referred to a werewolf movie with an ex-DAWSON'S CREEK cast member in it. It seems many younger people of the instant-gratification generation can wait in line for hours to see a space fantasy, but can't give an hour and 40-odd minutes to see and hear about REAL people going into space! These are not Jedi Knights; these are guys you might see strolling a local mall! And they've flown to the MOON. Painful truth is, we've not been back to the moon in my wife's lifetime (she's 35). We've been not-so-boldly going into earth orbit over and over again. No wonder kids of today feel like Apollo is a faded memory, like WW1. Unless the public imagination can be collectively re-fired once again (as in the film where hundreds were camped out in a Florida dept. store parking lot just to watch the Apollo 11 launch), it'll be difficult to imagine that we'll ever muster enthusiasm for adventures beyond Earth orbit. It's not an issue of cost (NASA's funds are less than one percent of the total federal budget; if not for NASA the money would not make any REAL significant difference elsewhere). Or an issue of war-spending (we landed on the moon during Vietnam). It's just that the national will is NOT there; like those people leaving the theater tonight woefully illustrated. I, for one (hopefully not the only one), would love to experience space flight in my lifetime. Or see a human make a boot-print on Mars. IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON reminds us of a time when anything seemed possible, and the impossible was coming at the end of a single decade. You leave the theater wondering, "We did it then (with crude technology and vacuum-tube computers); why the hell can't we do it NOW?"
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Film Review
TheReelManBlog8 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
If humankind has a purpose, it is to explore and discover. From Magellan to Lewis and Clark, humans are driven as a species to, as one fictional Starfleet captain once said, "boldly go where no one has gone before." And there is no more awe-inspiring example of man's quest for answers than NASA's Apollo space program. While the motivation to land a man (after all it was a boys' club back then) on the moon had very little to do with exploration, it is a triumph that also exists outside the politics of the Cold War.

With new interviews of the surviving Apollo astronauts, In The Shadow of the Moon relates through first-person accounts, the stakes, fears and discoveries of humankind's greatest achievement, peppered throughout with stunning archival footage. Looking back on their missions of the late 60's and early 70's, the astronauts are surprisingly animated, eloquent and even humorous - especially Alan Bean (Apollo 12) and Michael Collins (Apollo 11). Buzz Aldrin (Apollo 11) also delivers a big laugh when he recounts what he was first to do on the moon (hint: it rhymes with "kiss.") While one astronaut invokes the son of God (I'd like to see Jesus try and pilot the lunar module), I much prefer the presence of the more nondenominational and spiritual insights the journey impressed upon these men.

To the delight of conspiracy theorists who see it as a silent confirmation of the "truth," first-man-on-the-moon, Neil Armstrong turned down the opportunity to be interviewed for the film. His absence is a shame as it would be interesting to hear more from the Apollo 11 commander whose words (missing article forgiven) so perfectly encapsulated the real meaning of the mission. Perhaps it is just his reclusive nature or maybe he simply recognizes that the first lunar landing was not the accomplishment of one astronaut, but rather hundreds of thousands of scientists, engineers and other contractors behind the scenes, every bit as, and in many ways more, important than his contribution.

Our lives can be traced by the footprints we leave behind, and those footprints in the lunar dust left by a jury's worth of astronauts are profound ones to be sure. My father was there to watch the launch of Apollo 11, and I hope I am able to witness liftoff of the first manned (or wo-manned) mission to Mars.

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A new drama out of old wine
Cliff Hanley30 October 2007
This documentary follows the American side of the space race, allowing the surviving astronauts to tell their stories, and in fact one of them makes a reference to Tom Wolfe's 'The Right Stuff' - having read the book and having hoped he really 'had it'. The film of Wolfe's book does cover the same territory, though this has gone into a lot of it in much greater depth - hours of painstaking effort must have gone into matching film of, for instance, one guy at Mission Control mouthing ''Yeah!' as we hear his voice in the recorded exchange with successful spacemen. The director has done his best to put it all in historical perspective, as Stateside apartheid came to a violent end and planes poured bombs and chemicals down on the Vietnamese. This last footage accompanies astronauts' talk of having it easy while their buddies were fighting for their country. The sub-plot of the space-race being the vanguard of the arms race is somehow threaded in there, too. For a while, popular feeling in the States was turning away from space and Kennedy's promise, as if talking to children, (not included here) to put a man on the moon; but that was until it happened. So between 1968 and 1972, nine American 'modules' were rocketed to the moon, and twelve men walked upon it. The newly unearthed footage of space, the earth, the moon and 'home movies' of inside the spacecraft have been spliced together with the astronauts' reminisces to create quite a new drama, and perhaps never before has it been so well described just how enormous the Apollos were; looking here as broad as football pitches, and with their tiny peashooter payload. It makes sense on seeing this to forget about starmen for a while. Mike Collins had as much to say about the background, the mission and the result as anyone. He said that just for a while everyone was saying ''we' did it" instead of "they did it" - it was 'ephemeral' but it was there. Ultimately, this is a beautifully crafted movie, able to drop jaws in the age of digital blockbuster fantazoom effects, and the lead up to the Moon-shot is still able to recreate that old tension.
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True Heroes with the Right Stuff
daveygandthekeyboard23 September 2007
In the Shadow of the Moon shows the story of the Apollo moon missions in the eyes and words of the astronauts who participated, and in doing so, makes the viewer both proud of what they accomplished and sad at what NASA has become these days. Much in the tradition of The Right Stuff, this film takes the (easily sustained) position that the men who went to the moon are true heroes. There is a certain awe with which we watch the events of the late sixties and early seventies, and the astronauts, now in their seventies, share that awe. The film takes actual footage from the missions and intersperses it with the interviews with back stories (I liked Buzz Aldrin talking about how he was taking a whiz before he actually stepped on the surface of the moon, which he narrates as we see it on the screen!). It is a fascinating film, a great companion piece to the Right Stuff or Apollo 13. Highly recommended!
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fine doc
SnoopyStyle23 December 2015
In 1961, 20 days after Yuri Gargarin orbits the Earth, US President John F Kennedy commits the country in a speech in front of congress to go to the moon and back by the end of the decade. The American program is in trouble and falling behind to the Soviets. Then the Apollo program has a horrifying accident in 1967. They persevered until the eventual triumphant landing before the decade ends.

This has a lot of talking head of people involved in the program. It is informative and compelling. It's good to see this pull together this bit of history from the 60s and 70s. It's got nice inside footage and the iconic outer space footage. The launch footage is incredible. It's a fine overall documentary of this program.
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Icarus Dream Suite!
sc803129 June 2008
The Apollo missions were incredibly dangerous, bold and ambitious. There was something almost Faustian in flying to the moon. How amazing that these missions were done with computer technology from 40 years ago! The excitement and romance of the Apollo missions are intimately shown and discussed with the original astronauts in this affecting documentary.

Although the documentary style itself is perhaps a bit predictable (slow-motion footage played against melancholic or sparse music) the footage of the missions is so excellent, and some of the old astronauts so interesting, that the movie ends up being quite emotionally effective.

A lot of things I never realized about the Apollo missions are highlighted here, such as how short they were in actual length or the emotional catharsis each of the astronauts went through during the experience. The spiritual revelations are the most interesting portions of the movie, those parts when the astronauts recall the way it completely changed their lives.

The fact that these affected gentlemen were some of the most intelligent and physically prime engineers, pilots and scientists on the planet really drives home the magnitude of their experiences. These guys don't strike one as being easily convinced of romantic religious beliefs or weak philosophical needs. They are, and were chosen for being, very self-sufficient individuals. (It's also kind of interesting that only one Apollo crew member became religious)

I wanted a little more to be discussed about the first Apollo mission, which exploded upon lift-off, and the astronauts who piloted it. And the only Apollo missions really focused on are 11 and 13, the later ones are sort of brushed over. It would have been nice to at least have a quick overview or summary of the various missions.

But this is a captivating documentary. The way the subject matter is presented, it becomes a meditation on the human condition. Watching the footage from the Apollo missions feels like one truly is watching some event from the Greek myths. This reiterated to me just how insane and incredulous it is that people actually went to the moon and walked around.
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ian10001 June 2008
Warning: Spoilers
As a lifelong space enthusiast I did not expect this movie to offer anything new; after all, unless there's any colour footage not yet released, how could it? I was wrong. The sight and sounds of 10 of the 24 lunar voyagers (7 are no longer with us following Armstrong's death) was indeed compelling.

I find Alan Bean to be the most "normal", unassuming and likable of the interviewees, but even the "difficult" Gene Cernan sounded humble as he spoke about Vietnam.

Aldrin, Lovell and Cernan are frequently seen on documentaries - so it was refreshing to see Young and Mitchell and the others speak of Apollo.
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It was a time when we made bold moves.
lastliberal16 May 2008
I was just a lad of 19 when we accomplished one of the greatest feats of all time - putting a man on another body in space. This is the story of that magnificent accomplishment and the eight subsequent trips to the moon told by those who made the trips. These men are the only ones who have been to the moon, as we have made no trips back since the Apollo program.

I loved Tom Wolf's story, The Right Stuff about these astronauts, but to see them tell their own story was awesome. These are the guys who really ventured where no man has gone before.

What was amazing to them and to me is the fact that the whole world was part of our ventures and we were, for a brief time, one world united. We sure blew that.
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The greatest telling of our greatest achievement.
Luke Bone21 April 2008
In the Shadow of the Moon is a documentary film chronicling the American manned space missions that took place during the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was made by the British company Discovery Films and shows the greatest achievement of humankind through the eyes of those that participated in it. In doing so it brings together 10 of the 24 men that have been to the moon.

In the Shadow of the Moon is a very well assembled documentary, it utilizes archive NASA and media footage and interlaces them with talking head footage of the astronauts. The manner in which the interviews are constructed purvey an endearing quality rarely captured during such routine methods, all of these old men have an air of modesty and graciousness to them that resonates with the viewer and a sense of soulfulness is also felt, as the documentary makers act with benignity and care. In speaking so freely the astronauts invite respect through their profound words of wisdom and invaluable insights into our world. They candidly speak of the beauty of our landscapes, the insignificance of territorial disputes and their experience of being able to blot the Earth out with only their thumb. How the astronauts talk of their trips to the moon is charming and this mere fact becomes enough to command any audience member into hanging onto their every word, trying to gain an insight, or even a taste of their experiences – which is ultimately something that only you or I can dream of.

Although the film brings together only 10 of the 24 men, there is unfortunately one noticeable absentee – Neil Armstrong. The fact that the first man to step on the moon has failed to contribute to this film, especially given that it concentrates heavily on the 1969 Apollo 11 flight and those first footsteps, is incredibly disappointing. This disappointment is also reiterated when witnessing those footsteps on the big screen as one can't help but wish for him to talk us through it. The disappointment is, however, short-lived because those images still draw tingles and awe and the fellow astronauts that take part in the film more than make up for his absence.

A cliché often associated with documentaries is that there is, somewhere along route, a distortion of the facts and In the Shadow of the Moon is no exception. A little bit of research reveals that some of Buzz Aldrin's renditions of events is inaccurate with NASA logs - something the documentary ignores. To counter this though the film does serve up some new interesting facts, such as the un-broadcast presidential speech (incase the crew failed to return) and that there had been three other planned attempts to the moon during 1969 had Apollo 11 failed.

Some of the world may view this documentary as propaganda, and that it's drumming up feelings of pro-Americanism. This couldn't be further from the truth, despite Americans being notorious for their patriotism and constant self promotion, the film tries very hard at avoiding turning the greatest accomplishment by humankind into a political achievement (as it was originally believed to be back in the early 1960s). This is perhaps due to the fact that it has a British film company at the helm, and the sole belief of the rest of planet is that it was a human endeavour. Hinted to during the film by Mike Collins, who states that everywhere he went, subsequent to the 1969 moon landing, people spoke of how "we had done it". The film has a constant an underlying theme of both our significance (humankind) and our insignificance.

The film will not quell conspiracy theorists that are, of course, adamant the moon landings never took place and the cleverly arranged snippets of the astronauts during the final reels can't help but elicit a smile from even the most die-hard of conspirators. Finally, the film is very well edited and very well made. It brings together wonderful people and tells their plight with beautiful footage and candor storytelling. To listen to these men speak and hear of their ups and downs during their time in the space program is a lovely experience and an experience I would thoroughly recommend.
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Scores high Because of the meaning behind the film
yaoxin111120 November 2007
The documentary tells an accurate story about the American's quest for moon landing. And it does a decent job of educating it's viewers about the history of moon landing. Nothing too special about the storyline itself. However, the documentary provokes the beauty of life. It inspires me, as its viewer, regardless of where I am in life, what my political view is, what my religious view is, to fully appreciate the life I'm living, be grateful of every moment of life, and try to enjoy and make use of every minute of it. I guess it's the significance of moon landing itself, and this documentary effectively conveys it. Very few film today brings such message these days. That's why I scored it high.
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Lucky bastards...
Fedor Petrovic (fedor8)6 October 2008
Don't worry about this being "a Ron Howard presentation". He had zip to do with this documentary - except maybe pitching in a few bucks - but merely attached his name to the project in order to give it (and himself) more publicity (much like publicity-w**re Spielberg had to have his dumb name glued on to just about anything in the 80s/90s with moving pictures).

(Speaking of Ron Howard, this is what a mock journalist called Dennis Pennis (UK comedian Paul Kaye), told Tom Hanks and Ron Howard at the Cannes Festival, at the promotion of "Apollo 13": "Tom, you've made the ultimate movie: totally lacking in atmosphere." Pretentious, arrogant Tom wasn't too pleased with that, but to his credit Ron smiled.)

ITSOTM is a very interesting documentary, finally one that's a bit different i.e. focuses solely on the astronauts' perspective. The space/mission footage is terrific, including many scenes - in particular from the Apollo 11 mission - that I doubt I've seen before. The guys who were on the Moon (or flew around it... or tried to get to it) are very likable for the most part, down-to-Earth (not an intentional pun, I assure you), and they appear to be honest/truthful enough about their experiences. Collins is very relaxed, somewhat humorous, Cernan is predictably intense (he's the religious nut) and a typical army man's man, and Buzz tells us that he's the first man to pee on the Moon.

This is the first time I've seen what Neil Armstrong looks/looked like. Apparently, this guy had quickly withdrawn from the media spotlight (who can blame him), and has been so successful at it that I thought he'd been long dead! Of course, don't expect to find him reminiscing in this film along with the other astronauts, but this is a rare close look at (the best we have) what he was/is like. Not at all like Buzz Aldrin, who's made appearances on just about every show there is, including Jay Leno's, and who even has the unenviable distinction of being the only astronaut being interviewed who's had a FACELIFT. Jesus, you'd think a visit to the Moon would have given him some insight on life!

Speaking of Jesus, some viewers complain about the religious aspect. I'm a 100% atheist, and yet I had no problem with the astronauts espousing their religious views. After all, if you want a documentary about what these guys actually think and what they experienced during their flights, then you can't censor them for "mixing Church and State" - the words Lovell said at one point when he referred to a Texan atheist woman who actually sued the astronauts for quoting the Bible! Sure, those quotes may be silly, especially in the context of something as serious as a Moon mission, but the U.S. happens to be a mostly Christian nation. Get used to it. Or go live on the Moon.

As for the end-credits theme, regarding the retarded conspiracy theorists and their beliefs, I have mixed feelings about how right or wise it was to include that topic. On one hand, that small and idiotic minority doesn't deserve a single second on this - or any - documentary or film about space exploration. On the other hand, it was interesting to hear what the astronauts had to say, brief as it was, about that baloney. Charlie Duke said it best with his "why would we fake it NINE times?...".

Notice that there are/were no conspiracy theories about the Russians first orbiting the Earth in 1961 or later going to the Moon themselves - which just goes to show who initiated that nonsense: namely Left-leaning, Kremlin-embracing, anti-U.S. lunatics, who were quickly joined by various other society's rejects/misfits who think just because THEY aren't capable of tieing their own shoelaces without help, that mankind - real men - cannot reach a satellite that is actually not even that far from Earth to begin with.

Brief note regarding Buzz's peeing: technically speaking he urinated into his space-suit, hence he wasn't the first to pee ONTO the Moon itself. Unless, of course, all of their waste was discharged before lift-off, but in that case all three astrounauts' urine would have been the first to land on the Moon...
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