The Last Man on the Moon (2014) Poster

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Emotionally charged, Gene Cernan's story, 'Last Man,' really does make 'The Martian' look like a comedy
cinemacy25 February 2016
On Wednesday, February 24th, scientists detected the origin point of a space radio signal 6 billion light-years away and managed to find the universe's missing matter as a result. This incredible discovery is a strong reminder of how far we've come since 1969, the moment when Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong declared the first successful mission to the Moon as One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. Since Armstrong, twelve men in total have walked on the moon during the Apollo missions from 1969-1972. Of these 12, Eugene "Gene" Cernan was the last, and the documentary The Last Man on the Moon is his story.

Cernan's story is a unique one; a former Navy captain, his journey towards becoming a NASA astronaut started with a simple phone call. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy set the bar high for U.S. space exploration, putting pressure on the space program to be the first country to land on the moon. This public assignment given to NASA resulted in an increased demand for anyone willing to participate in the program, which lead to more opportunities for people like Gene to join. Getting his foot in the door was the easy part, he realizes in hindsight. The intense training that each of the aspiring young men endured, including desert survival, water survival, and jungle survival just to name a few, was the hard part. The best thing to come from that experience, Gene remarks, was the strong bonds he made with the other men.

His close friendships with his co-workers also made the tough times almost unbearable. Two deadly events, the unexpected crash of Gemini 9 which claimed the lives of the two pilots in his crew as well as the emotional Apollo 1 fire of 1967, when his neighbor and good friend Roger Chaffee and two other men died as a result of a flash cabin fire in the shuttle, shook up Cernan's world. At the time, he was married with a young daughter and the thought of never seeing his family again was extremely hard on him. However, when he was selected to be a part of the Apollo 17 crew, NASA's last mission to the moon, Cernan couldn't say no.

Cernan spent three days on the moon. Right before he was about to leave, and knowing that man may not be back on the moon again for years, he left his footprints and wrote his daughter's initials in the lunar dust. He describes this moment with such intimacy and detail that it's truly humbling to listen to him.

It does not feel like a traditional "documentary-style" film, thanks to the stylized approach from director Mark Craig as he strikes the perfect balance between the portrayal of Gene's personal and work life. He cuts between Gene in the present day with archival footage of his time at NASA, which, photographically, feels like a subtle effort to relive his experience. The B-roll of various space missions really does make The Martian look like a comedy. The Last Man on the Moon is a top notch documentary that feels like a perfect fit on the HBO or Showtime roster. It is humbling, poignant, hard-hitting, and emotionally charged, on top of being aesthetically rich and visually beautiful. Without giving too much away, I can say that the last shot will take your breath away as it did mine.

The Last Man on the Moon is not all happy endings. This is a deeply personal film for Cernan which is why it took until now, 40 years since his return to earth, to share his story. Now living on a ranch in Texas, Gene still works to this day, as his friends and family admit that "retirement" is not in his vocabulary. This film and its message is so important and will leave the viewer feeling inspired from both Gene's words and actions. Lightheartedly joking that he can't live forever, he wants to share his knowledge and experience now because he feels an obligation to inform the younger generations about man's potential and inspire hope for the future. "I walked on the moon," he says at the end of the film, "what can't you do?"

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Highly recommended
crocolm29 March 2015
It seems to me that nowadays we are no longer as attuned to, or turned on by Space Exploration as generations were in times past. It's probably not too much of an exaggeration to say it could be seen by many as 'old hat'. The reasons for this, I speculate, may be variously due to the Un-manned, technically advanced nature of many of today's missions (which has removed the key human interest element from the story) as well as our obsession with matters more material or tangible.

This feature length documentary which I watched today was shown as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival. It harks back to the pioneering age when Space Exploration was front and centre in the public's consciousness and for Americans it's every success was regarded as a source of intense National pride in their Cold-war Space-Race against the Soviet Union. Astronauts were routinely and quite rightly feted as All-American heroes. Here was a time when the various Apollo missions were a Prime-time ratings winner, transfixing an anxious TV-watching public who tuned in on a daily basis for the latest updates knowing as they did the inherent danger involved.

I came to this as a casually interested viewer with, at best a passable knowledge of the history of Space Exploration. Without a doubt my interest has now been piqued. It's a thoroughly enjoyable documentary which deserves to be shown (and seen) on the large screen. Gene Cernan is the hero and focus of this story; he being the last of the 12 men to set foot on the moon. However Gene or any of the other players are not presented as mere cardboard heroes; instead the very real man as well as Astronaut is revealed- there is no excess light shown on Gene the astronaut to the exclusion of Gene the man, husband and Father. For instance sadness and regret at being away from his daughter for extended periods are juxtaposed with the euphoria of being one of the lucky few to know what it really feels like to get your space-boots covered in moondust.

The fact that Gene is now in his 80's as are most of the other Astronauts featured makes it a timely production and it also lends a poignancy and a gravitas to it. Gene comes across as a proud but very grounded man capable of making telling insights and being able to reflect meaningfully on his achievements without ever wearing them haughtily. The contributions from former fellow Astronauts, Mission control commanders and family members by turn combine to create a full and rounded picture of the man. The Last Man on the Moon is very deftly paced and well edited. Its shot through with the most amazing and varied archive footage including everything from amateur home-movies to NASA archived material. When viewed through the prism of today's super-advanced technological times there's a flying-by-the-seat-of-their-pants feel to much of the Mission control and Space footage which I found fascinating. There's a great swinging-sixties soundtrack to boot.

Definitely recommended. One final thought; does anyone else think that Gene Cernan is a ringer for Clint Eastwood?
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I loved this film for these reasons...
tonyhaines-spp28 May 2016
Warning: Spoilers
I highly recommend this movie for anyone, but if you are a NASA buff you will see footage that is rarely seen. As an avid NASA fan boy from the 60s it's difficult to show me shots I have not seen before. This movie did that well.

I appreciate how they mixed the old footage into this modern retrospective. Instead of expanding the old 4:3 footage and exploding pixels they just let it be. The Last Man on the Moon is unique film because of the elements that are not in the movie as well. Not in the movie are the rehashed NASA film angles that we are all kinda done with. Another standard of NASA movies is the heroic main characters and astronauts. Most of the personal stories still known today were products of the NASA press office and Time magazine. This movie avoids those fictional narratives. I loved the way we get to know Gene Cernan the man. Here's a guy with many flaws but he was good enough to fly into space three times. The film makers took their sweet time telling his story from early childhood to now, an 82 year old grandfather.

The sound track is excellent! The film uses a perfect mix of original and period music. I was there when Apollo 17 launched from pad 39a in 1972. It was my fourth time watching a Saturn 5 lift off. This one was different however. It was late at night, delayed a few times. When it finally took off the night turned into day, it made a fitting end to the Apollo story.
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Excellent Documentary, Gene is a legend...
keithehoult12 April 2015
I had the privilege of seeing this at its Premiere in the UK at Shefields DocFest last Summer.

Being a child of the Apollo Space Program and witnessing the step by step progress on Mans conquest of the Moon I become easily emotional these days to any footage of that magical era.

This Documentary is a well crafted piece of work and I concur with the sentiment of the previous viewer, so I won't say much more other than enjoyment is guaranteed.

What really sealed it for me on the day I viewed it was that at the end of the screening Gene Cernan was ushered in from the back of the Auditorium to a standing ovation, and I at last got to meet a real genuine Space Cowboy after all these decades.

It is mind bogglingly what these guys achieved and this film should be shown to all kids in Schools in a bid to inspire and educate them as to what can be achieved if one has the will to do it.
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Love the Man, Love the documentary
subxerogravity6 March 2016
There is a documentary about the first man on the moon Neil Armstrong on Netflix. Eugene Cernan and Armstrong seem to live very similar lives. Makes since, cause it does take a certain type of man to be selected to walk on the moon.

This doc is a little bit better. I'm equally a fan of any man that went to the moon, but while Armstong's was way more focus on him, Cernan's doc showed me more about how the space program was working back in those days. Cernan went more thoroughly into the selection process, the training, the hardships and the glory. It was a more full picture of what it's like to be an astronaut mixed in with personal info on the type of man Cernan is.

Plus we got to see some insight on what's happening right now to get people to Mars, an event that Cernan himself was excited about.

It was a good documentary on an icon. it's starts off slow but once it gets its foot into the rhythm, it takes you to the moon.
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The Second Bookend
gavin69421 June 2016
When Apollo astronaut Gene Cernan stepped off the moon in December 1972 he left his footprints and his daughter's initials in the lunar dust. Only now is he ready to share his epic but deeply personal story of fulfillment, love, and loss.

Before watching this, I watched "For All Mankind". And they work perfectly as bookends to each other -- one film about the Apollo missions in broad strokes, and a second to wrap up the final mission and its aftermath. Together they present a fairly complete picture.

It is interesting how little we know about the Apollo astronauts. Most people probably can't name more than one or two, and even of those two, what do they know of their lives beyond that single trip? This film attempts to give some humanity to the godlike aura of the astronaut.
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If you were there, you will get this film - especially the pauses.
trey-yancy-572-7635476 April 2018
This is not a film that can be truly, totally appreciated by those who did not have the benefit of growing up in the time that gives this context. This was a time only a few years removed from the day when a Russian submarine commander near Cuba refused a direct order that would have started WWIII. It was the era of Viet Nam and riots, of a musical revolution never seen before or since, and a cultural revolution that reverberates to this day. Those of us who grew up with Mercury through Apollo memorized every technical detail of the program, plus mission objectives, names, backgrounds and everything else. On the way home from Scout camp with the bus radio on we listened to the live broadcast as Apollo 11 landed and when it did, not only did we cheer but every single car on the road and every pedestrian. It was beyond being merely heady. It was a moment in history that will live as long as recorded history exists. Cernan's documentary was not (as some reviewers suggest) an ego trip. As described by one great writer, the story is not about the "I" but about the "eye" - seeing things through Cernan's perspective. Younger generations have never experienced genuine awe. And they have not experienced this awe in the context of the cold war and being drafted right out of high school and being dropped into a rice paddy. When you live in such a situation and then you have something else going on that makes everything - including war - seem infantile, then you have a perspective that shows the Mercury through Apollo days to be among the most important times in all of history. If some find this film boring, it is because they haven't the context to understand genuine awe. Recent generations are very self-focused. The generation of the early space program was focused outward. It is that focus that reveals that which is truly important, which is the entire human species and not just one's circle of friends. I appreciate what Gene Cernan has done here and I'm glad he got to it before his time ran out. Films about Apollo 11 have been done to death. I'm glad that Cernan made a film that focused on the human experience and I am glad that it was his experience that provided the lens through which we could view it.
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Good....but also very, very slow and somber.
planktonrules23 November 2016
I am interested in learning about the astronauts and the Apollo program, so I enjoyed this film. However, I must also admit that the film is incredibly somber and slow....much more than it should have been considering the subject matter. The music sure didn't help, as it was REALLY moody and a bit depressing.

The film is a biography of Eugene Cernan...the last astronaut to be on the moon. But the story really doesn't talk much about Cernan's life up until he joined NASA. The story then follows him on his Gemini and two Apollo missions and then talks about his life since.

This story really benefits from having Cernan involved and narrating his life. I saw a similar sort of film about Neil Armstrong lately...but it was made after his death and didn't have this intimacy you have in "The Last Man on the Moon". Overall, well worth seeing....just drink a couple cups of coffee first so you stay awake!!
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Not all the way 'sky high'
saxsymbol3 June 2016
Sure enough Eugene Cernan did a very unique thing...but mainly for himself: Let's be honest: He didn't exactly make headlines the way Armstrong did. Nor did he invent a cure to cancer. Of course space travel has it's romantic side and during 'Last Man on the Moon' there's plenty of impressive footage from the Apollo program (and some less impressive home video's from Cernan's personal collection with endless narration). This documentary however claims to be centered around Cernan, and I expected the same character study as the one I once saw of Neill Armstrong, a recluse who simply couldn't cope with the fame and a very interesting man. Cernan however seemed to have embraced fame a bit too eagerly thus loosing himself in his ego: He still travels across the globe to tell his story to anyone who cares and in my case: to someone who stopped caring halfway the documentary. There was so much 'hero talk' by Cernan himself it became a bit annoying. That's when I just wanted to watch more impressive NASA footage. Alas, I was treated to more Cernan talking and less Cernan 'moonwalking'. Just watch any NASA sponsored IMAX 3D docu and you'll be way more impressed.
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A documentary about the other flight to the moon
ComedyFan20102 July 2017
While space is definitely a topic I find interesting I am not a real enthusiast who knows everything. So while I knew about the first man on the moon I didn't know the names of men who went after. This documentary is for people like me to tell us more about this part of space history.

Eugene Cernan is definitely am interesting man. We don't get to know much about him as a person from this documentary as we don't hear anything about his life before NASA. But there is a lot of details about his work. We also hear a bit about his personal life during this time but it is basically how work was keeping him away from home and ended his relationship.

It was really interesting to hear about their preparations. The tragedies that occurred before he went and him remembering his thoughts and feelings during those times. It also has some great historical footages of the flight.

He sure had an amazing and interesting life. The documentary seemed slow at times but with the topic it was still interesting.
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asc852 July 2016
Warning: Spoilers
I thought if I wrote a negative review here, I was going to be the only one, but judging by the few who preceded me, the issues they had are similar to mine. Specifically, it's boring. Gene Cernan seems like a very nice guy, and congrats to him for his opportunities with the NASA program and walking on the moon. But because he's not well-known to many of us, I thought the filmmakers would have an interesting and/or unique story about his life. However, as the movie wore on and on, I realized Cernan probably wasn't that unique and/or interesting compared to most of the 12 other men who walked on the moon that aren't named Neil Armstrong or Buzz Aldrin. Why Cernan?
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Sleep inducing...
trans_mauro2 July 2016
I am REALLY fascinated for all aspects of the moon landings and the Apollo program.

I consider these guys real heroes and I am very proud to have had the opportunity to talk with Charles Duke (Apollo 16) even if for a few brief minutes.

Having said that, it was with great disappointment that I have watched TLMOTM.

I did not feel any excitement, drama. Nothing piqued my attention or curiosity.

The whole thing felt like the video version of an obituary.

And, curiously, Jack Schmitt, Cernan's partner in the Apollo 17 mission, was nowhere to be seen. That was a very disturbing omission...

TLMOTM is only for the completists among us Apollo aficionados.
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ivymissing7 October 2018
I must say, I did learn a lot about the Apollo programme. I didn't find it sleep inducing as another reviewer here said. It was a solid documentary.
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paul-858-6753925 November 2018
Great story on a humanist level. Very well made documentary. Loved it.
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A Soviet-like propaganda film
ersbel11 February 2019
A Soviet-like propaganda film. Sure, the forced attempt at perfection is lacking. But it follows the same path. Useless present day footage with old men starting up a grill, see the wholesome American life? Mixed up with generic archive footage, the guy himself has quite a few and uninteresting photos.

And even when you get past the propaganda (The Last, really?) you are left with a dull film about yet another governmental bureaucrat with a big pension paid by the taxpayer. He is slow. He is uninteresting. And he talks about what he perceived as the good old times. No insides, no intelligent remarks. Another cog in a big governmental machine.
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Dream the impossible
maccas-5636725 January 2019
"I often tell young kids and particularly my grandkids, don't ever count yourself out. You'll never know how good you are unless you try. Dream the impossible and go out and make it happen. I walked on the moon. what can't you do?"

Astronauts always seem to come up with the most inspiring quotes. And Eugene Cernan was no exception. This was an inspiring documentary and taught me a lot about the Apollo missions of the 1960s and 70s.

It was so cool to actually see and hear first-hand accounts of what Apollo 17 (the last moon mission) did. I had no idea they spent days up there.

It was also an unexpectedly emotional film; the deaths of astronaut friends (especially Roger Chaffee and co.), the sacrifices made to pursue their goals etc, broken relationships.

I also found the film strangely hypnotizing and it made me sleepy. Slow-panning space shots, with relaxed commentary from an old astronaut, combined with ethereal music. It was more effective than a cup of chamomile tea - though at first, I wish the film had been propelled faster by some of the rocket fuel used by NASA
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saraccan6 November 2018
It has a good balance between interviews and space/real footage to keep things interesting all the way through. Apparently he is a person that I knew nothing about so his story was pretty informative for me.

The story of Gene Cernan who was the last of the 12 men that walked on the moon.
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Historically significant and very well done...
heleneshaw26 February 2017
The 2017 United States Presidential election will be remembered as one of the most controversial in history.

Very few saw it coming... the dawn of a completely new era...

This film will be an instrumental segue for the new generation... from industrialization to the age of information...

It's been inching its way in... first it was ridiculed, silenced with money... and now, the turn in history.

I see the historical value of this film and truly appreciate it. I also embrace its excellent portrayal of man's passion to improve the world.

Thank you.

Helene Shaw (aka Madeleine de Vercheres) Victoria BC Canada

Feb. 26/2007
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I would like to go to the moon too
baranselbalaban7 May 2020
A beautiful documentary. nasa's success is great. congratulations.
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Best produced space documentary I've seen
englishchuck1 June 2016
I've been a space junkie since 1968, even applied to be an astronaut--I've seen just about every documentary on the space program and read many books. I was really impressed by the way this documentary was produced. Cernan comes across as a genuine, no-nonsense, sensitive, big- perspective kind of guy. The footage montage is creative, not staid, and it doesn't dominate the documentary. The photography is excellent. I saw this as the best visual story of an astronaut, not just a moon-walker--or even the last moon-walker--that is available right now. Every person under 50 should watch this--especially the youngsters.
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Brilliant Direction & Wonderful Doc. That Needed to be Told
mainstreet-6253918 February 2023
The direction, the editing, the humanity that comes thru is what is so riveting. The rare film footage, the honesty and you can obviously watch it from a historical angle as well. I appreciate this film and what it must have taken to put this together.

It is emotional in parts and so interesting looking at the history of the space program. I applaud all the people it took to make a doc. Like this.

Like entertainers the space men if you will were not able to be there for their families sometimes. I think a lot of folks in the entertainment industry will relate to this part of the story.

Good cowboys do get to ride off into the sunset sometimes.
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