In The Shadow Of The Moon


Directed by: David Sington
Released: March 6, 2008
Grade: B+

Man landing on the moon has always fascinated me.  With the limited technology we had in 1969, I can’t believe that we were able to fly someone 384,000 km to a satellite with no atmosphere and have them return safely.  That moment when Neil Armstrong first set foot on the moon was one of the greatest events of the 20th Century.

In The Shadow Of The Moon is a documentary which looks at the Apollo program.  It was kick started by John F. Kennedy (in a famous speech) and ran from 1961 to 1975.  There were ten missions in total.  The film focuses largely on Apollo 11, the mission in which Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped into history.

Director David Sington has reunited most of the astronauts who were involved in the Apollo program.  We get to hear them reflect on their experiences and how their lives changed as a result.  There are some very interesting stories (some serious and some comical) to be heard.  You’ll be surprised to know what Buzz Aldrin was thinking to himself as he walked down the ladder of the lunar module to become the second man on the moon.

Sadly, Neil Armstrong does not appear in this documentary.  Sington tried to convince him but said that Armstrong was reluctant to do interviews in front of a camera.  They did converse via email however.  Whilst I don’t think Armstrong’s non-appearance hurts the film, I still wish I could have heard his own thoughts.  I’ll have to read his authorised biography (written by James Hansen) which was released in 2005.

The film includes a bunch of “never before seen footage”.  For those interested in the space program, this will make it must see viewing.  For me personally, the highlight was watching the old news stories (with anchormen such as Walter Cronkite) commentate the events as they happened.  I also liked seeing the footage of people glued to their television screens across the globe.  It was a story that united the planet.

I liked In The Shadow Of The Moon but it was a little repetitive in places.  The astronauts all seemed to have similar thoughts about what it was like to travel through space and to see the Earth from such as great distance.  As I’ve already alluded to above, I preferred watching the old archival footage as opposed to listening to the modern day interviews.  It’s just a matter of personal preference I guess.