Fifty years ago this July, our country’s visionary moon mission was accomplished. This miraculous technical achievement is brought vividly to life, using newly discovered 65 mm footage and more than 11,000 hours of uncatalogued audio recordings.
This documentary, now available on IMAX screens but not in 3-D, is from the perspective of the three Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, the mission control at NASA’s Houston headquarters and the launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, with millions of spectators riveted to the sky.
For those of us who were alive to witness a giant leap for mankind, “Apollo 11” evokes the joy and wonder of that significant earth-to-moon journey in 1969.
Director Todd Douglas Miller has dedicated the film to the thousands of people who made it possible, and painstakingly documents the decisions, the precision of what had to happen, and the sheer technical marvel of what mere mortals achieved.
President John F. Kennedy threw down the gauntlet: “Then we must be bold.” And we were – the best and brightest minds who invented the materials to make it happen, the brave pilots who trained for outer space, and the persistence and determination of visionary engineers, designers, aeronautic personnel and all who came together for the greatest event in the 20th century.
The eight-day journey is edited, of course, but the tension and the excitement is captured as we go through those minutes and hours. The film concentrates on all the details, big and small, using all the iconic images. But the film also is imbued with the hope of possibilities that was part of the whole experience.
On July 20, 1969, we were one nation. No matter how many times I see the Eagle land, I still get goosebumps. And hearing Walter Cronkite narrate parts of the launch, flight and re-entry was just the cherry on top.
As I was leaving the theater, a man remarked: “And they did it with slide rulers and sharp pencils.”
Yes, they did. This film celebrates the science and the people that made this stunning achievement possible. And the intangibles that united us all -- for a brief, shining historical moment.