Thursday, September 27, 2007

In the Shadow of the Moon

“There are some men who lift the age they inhabit, ‘til all men walk on higher ground in that lifetime.”
—Maxwell Adams

In 1961 President John F. Kennedy presented a goal and challenge for the United States to land men on the face of the moon before the end of the decade. This speech led to the creation of the Apollo program and their missions to the moon.

This new documentary from director David Sington and producer Ron Howard takes us back to the early days through the words and experiences of the surviving Apollo astronauts including Buzz Aldrin, Alan Bean, Michael Collins, Jim Lovell, and Neil Armstrong (though in Armstrong’s case, only through archival footage).

With human ingenuity and hard work these men traveled through space and many of them stepped foot on the moon. It was a time of magic and pushing the limits of all that was possible.

The film focuses mainly on the Apollo 11 mission, but also incorporates events from other space missions, including the near disaster of Apollo 13, into a well-managed format discussing training, lift-off, moon landing, return and life afterwards, with all the astronauts.

It’s nice to get to know these men of legend and see them reminisce about an adventure they can only truly share with each other. Their stories are fascinating and each gives their own take on their experiences; Michael Collins is especially entertaining. A final note for those of you who can find this film playing at a theater near you. Stay through the credits and listen to the astronauts as they debunk the crazy Apollo hoax allegations. It’s almost worth the price of admission alone.

Sure there’s a little too much condensed into a single film, but they get the message and the spirit right; casual observers can take this film as a starting point to learn more about one of the most interesting eras in our nation’s history. What most moved me about the film was the profound impact of the moon landings and space flight on each of these men and their understanding and respect for our world. As the film points out, no man has walked on the moon (or any other heavenly body) since 1972. Once we were strong, smart, and bold enough to travel among the stars. We could use a little more of that today. For more on the Apollo missions check out these sites here and here.

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