In the Shadow of the Moon (2007)

Fifty years ago Sputnik flew and the Space Race began as an energetic competition of the cold war. In just a few short years man was in space and anything seemed possible. Kennedy set this nation off on the task of putting a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth before the end of the 1960’s decade. It was an impossible task. The men who took up the challenged have been immortalized by Tom Wolfe and Tom Hanks. They are the subject of countless Discovery Channel specials. Is there really anything more that can be said on the subject? Is there really an new perspective on these men?

The answer is ‘Yes’. Leave it to Ron Howard who directed Apollo 13 and produced the mini series ‘From the Earth to the Moon’ to show us the Apollo program from the inside, from the astronauts’ point of view. The movie is a simple documentary using historical archive footage edited together with new footage of several of the astronauts who are still alive 40 years later. The story is presented in a modified chronological format through the entire process. They did not shy away from the tragedy of Apollo 1 but faced it head on. Buzz Aldrin spoke about what it felt like on top of the Saturn V rocket as the ship left the ground and did its delicate gimbal dance only feet away from the tower. You always hear the voice over say things like “you have cleared the tower” but his description put it into perspective.

Another astronaut described what it was like to leave Earth’s orbit and look back at the tiny fragile home floating in the black void. Mike Collins described what it was like to be alone in the command module while the other two guys got to go down to the surface. The movie was full of humor. Buzz Aldrin said the Neil Armstrong may have been the first man to walk on the moon but he was the first man to relieve himself on the moon.

The tone of the movie is designed to reflect on what a great accomplishment it was and at the same time the guys who did it were human. They did it for a love of the science and a sense of adventure. They came home heroes for doing what they loved. They contrasted that to what was going on in the world at the end of the 60’s and how that made them feel.

I highly recommend this movie. It is in limited release and will not probably get a larger release. I was lucky and saw it playing at a small art house. I expect it on DVD soon enough. Put it in your NetFlix queue now.

Leave a Reply