Saturday, December 14, 2019

Apollo 11 - Documentary Review

The Documentary: Apollo 11

The Director: Todd Douglas Miller

The Story: A look at the Apollo 11 mission to land on the moon led by commander Neil Armstrong and pilots Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins.

The Review:
Wow. Just wow.

Even though this is a documentary that uses all archival footage, it plays out like a dramatic thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. Of course, we all know the story, or at least we all should, of the first moon landing ever made by man with astronaut Neil Armstrong taking that oh so famous one small step for mankind. Of course, that step was only made possible due to the unbelievable efforts from every single person involved with planning, building, scheming, training, coordinating, and executing one of the most ambitious endeavors ever taken on by human beings and this documentary shows us all of that.

It's amazing to think that the hand held device you are probably reading this on has way more computing power than the entire assemblage of technology that was built into the various components of the rocket used to send three human beings safely to the moon and back. Director Todd Douglas Miller meticulously pieces together footage, interviews, graphics, and other related media to show exactly how this incredible feat was achieved and I am happy to say that I was both entertained and learned a heck of a lot that I never knew before as well.

Most of us have seen movies like Apollo 13, The Right Stuff, and Hidden Figures so we have a pretty good idea of what NASA was all about during this time period, it was just really interesting to see the real people doing all the things we know, some of them even being familiar from having been portrayed in those other movies. One of the things I was most impressed with about the documentary is how amazing the video clips look, often times being more cinematic in quality than a lot of the stuff we see in narrative features. Knowing none of it was recreated or built with cgi technology added a depth and texture to the images that was just stunning to see on screen.

My only regret about this movie is not seeing it in a theater. Watching it at home was impressive enough and I could only imagine how the visuals and earth rattling sound design would be enhanced by being presented on a big screen with a full speaker system to work with. That being said, Apollo 11 is still a must watch on any format and should be considered essential viewing for anyone who has any interest in the history of our space program.

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