Apollo 11 - Men on the Moon (2002) - Rotten Tomatoes

Apollo 11 - Men on the Moon (2002)





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Mankind's greatest adventure is remembered for the digital age. The DVD format changed the way we look at movies and especially TV series, with massive complete-season sets. That concept is spectacularly taken one-step further with Spacecraft Films' definitive collections of the Gemini and Apollo space missions, stuffing in nearly every scrap of TV transmissions and on-board footage. The three- to six-disc sets use the full functions of the DVD format; see a liftoff in six different angles (some remixed with 5.1 sound) or listen to a mixture of air-to-ground communications, official NASA narration, or post-flight debriefings, most often carefully synched to the exact moment of footage seen. Like any good research paper, every bit of footage may not be interesting, but taken as a chronicle of history, it's irreplaceable.

NASA's most monumental mission was Apollo 11, placing Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the surface of the moon. Unfortunately, it's one of the least stunningly photographed missions, with grainy black-and-white TV footage for the two-hour moon walk. However it's so rare that hardly anyone has seen more than a few seconds of this broadcast since 1969. Watch the broadcast as it was (alas, no Walter Cronkite, but this is the NASA feed--not a network), or watch the 16mm color footage shot by a stationary camera inside the lunar module, or watch a composition of both that also displays the famous photographs at the moment they were taken (how cool is that?). The moon walk is only one of three discs and there's another eight hours of footage, including all the onboard film and TV transmissions, pre-and post flight news conferences, and 15 views of the launch. Plus there's plenty of behind-the-scenes footage--the assembly of the giant Saturn 5 spacecraft, moon-walk rehearsals, and capsule recovery. For space junkies, it's the ultimate visual treasure trove. Any kid who has primed himself watching Ron Howard's majestic Apollo 13 (which featured no real space footage) will probably be disappointed in the lack of "cool" footage (oddly, the earlier Gemini missions have more "whoa" photography), but anybody interested in the moon mission finally has a complete chronicle of what it looked like when it happened. --Doug Thomas
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