In the Shadow of the Moon
This exhilarating British-made documentary about the American lunar programme of the 1960s and 70s serves to remind us just how stirring the best efforts of mankind can be. Assembled under the guidance of director David Sington from a wealth of fascinating archive footage (some of it not seen before, all of it given handsome digital enhancement) and spliced together with headshot interviews with most of the surviving astronauts (the reclusive first man on the moon Neil Armstrong excepted), ITSOTM covers all nine of the Apollo space missions.
Sketching in the historical and political context – the Cold War rivalry between the US and the USSR that fuelled the space race, John F Kennedy’s rousing 1961 speech in which the American president promised his country would land a man on the moon before the end of the decade – the film’s narrow focus is on the experiences of the 24 men who flew the 240,000 miles to the big cheese in the sky and the 12 who actually set foot on it. Their collective first-hand recollections are insightful and affecting, not least the observation that the Earth seen from outer space looks beautiful but very fragile. That’s a poignant reminder that mankind has, since the last lunar landing in 1972, turned its labours inwards in a horribly self-destructive manner.