Thursday, July 15, 2021

Random Movie Reviews, Volume 13

Space Race Documentaries: 

Apollo 11 (2019): This was my gateway drug into space race documentaries in general and the moon landing in particular. This is one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen, even if it was released by CNN Films! But no fake news here, friends; director Todd Douglas Miller has created a concise, 93-minute event picture that documents the July 1969 Apollo 11 mission to the moon, and there’s never a dull moment. There are no talking heads, either; everything you hear is vintage audio, from Mission Control to the astronauts to various newscasters (Walter Cronkite of course among them). And everything you see is material that was filmed at the time. It is an incredibly realized documentation of a specific moment in history. Matt Seitz at aptly described Apollo 11 as “a trip film like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Woodstock,” and that wasn’t mere hyperbole on his part – from this informative Vanity Fair article we learn that much of the footage in Apollo 11 started life as material for a projected big-budget MGM film. Miller has taken this material, much of it rediscovered in NASA’s vaults, and turned out the movie that should have been released at the time; the vibe is certainly trippy a la Kubrick, and the frequent split-screens are straight out of Woodstock. In other words, Miller has created the MGM NASA movie that never was, and he’s done a damn fine job of it. 

Miller’s goal, as recounted in the above article, was to retain a sense of legitimacy with the past, thus even the soundtrack, by Matt Morton, is composed on vintage instruments like moog and mellotron. While cool, Morton’s pulsing score sounds more ‘80s than ‘60s; for an idea of what an actual “Apollo 11” soundtrack of the day sounded like, check out the bonus record review section below. Regardless, everything works together seamlessly; we open with the “crawler,” ie the massive vehicle that moved the equally-massive Saturn V rocket onto the launch pad, all while various audio snippets inform us what’s going on. There’s emotional content here, too; when the three Apollo 11 astronauts are introduced (Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin), Smith serves up flashback montages for each of them, showing snippets of their military careers, their astronaut training, and their family life. It’s very understated but very moving, particularly Armstrong’s sequence; the look on his face, when Smith cuts back to the “launch prep” footage, is almost identical to the look on his face at the end of his montage, where he’s looking at one of his sons. Cronkite’s voiceover material here is also perfectly matched. 

The launch is treated like the spectactle it must’ve been, but the highlight for me is the footage of all the spectators, many of whom sport some groovy sunglasses. And don’t blink or you’ll miss none other than Johnny Carson among them, looking very uncomfortable in his three-piece suit here in the blazing Florida sun. Moorton’s synthy soundtrack augments the various stages of the launch, but his best work comes up later in the film, when he counterpoints the reunion of Eagle and Columbia (ie the lunar lander and the command capsule) with a very moving piano piece…a sequence that comes off exactly like something out of 2001. Actually the soundtrack work throughout is perfect; in particular we have a bit where the astronauts are homebound and we see Buzz Aldrin’s cassette player floating in zero-g, and Smith brings up on the soundtrack the Johnny Cash-esque song it’s playing (John Stewart’s “Mother Country”). 

As for the moon landing itself, the infamous “1202 alarm” moment makes for tense viewing…if you know what’s going on. Here’s the one part a narrator might’ve helped. But essentially as Armstrong was bringing the lunar lander down, the computer was giving an alarm no one had ever heard of before. The entire mission could’ve been scrapped, but it was soon determined that it was nothing more than a sort of “overload” warning message from the computer. At any rate, the landing is still tense, filmed from a camera on the bottom of the lander, so you can see the legs skimming over the lunar landscape as Armstrong seeks a safe place to land. The moonwalk footage is good – better of course than the ghostly images originally broadcast on TV – and of course we hear the “one small step” announcement in real time. We also have the famous Nixon phonecall, and then it’s back to reunite with Collins in Columbia so that Apollo 11 can return home. At this point you feel that you have been part of the experience, and further you feel so much respect for these three men; the burst of applause when they’re choppered onto an awaiting Navy ship is especially welcomed. 

I could rave on and on about Apollo 11. It’s a mystery why it didn’t win an Oscar, but I’d wager the overt patriotism didn’t do it any favors; unlike the Armstrong biopic that bombed in theaters the other year, Apollo 11 not only shows the planting of the US flag but also has multiple scenes of people proudly waving the flag. It’s everywhere, from the spectactors at the launch to the men in Mission Control who wave their flags when Apollo 11 safely returns. Hollywood can’t hack patriotism on this scale; after all, merely displaying the American flag is now seen as a threatening act by today’s Left. (Curiously though the American flag is being embraced by freedom fighters all over the world…although the US media blocks that story, too!) But man, even I felt the tug of patriotism across all these decades as I watched this documentary; Miller’s skillful cut to President Kennedy’s speech at Rice University in 1962 at movie’s end was especially touching – as was the last pre-credits shot of the film being Kennedy’s confident grin. 

The footage throughout looks so pristine that you could almost think it was filmed last week, let alone over fifty years ago. There is a luminous glow to the pre-launch material, and Miller’s cuts – he also edited the film – are perfect. Supposedly there was a lot of material left in the vault of spectators at the launch, and Miller has assembled this rediscovered material so that it flows together quite artistically; even minor stuff comes across so cool, like a shot of the Saturn V sitting on the pad, and then cutting to a model of the rocket sitting in someone’s camper as they wait for the launch. The end credits sequence is also nice, with a concise look at the astronauts’s two weeks in quarantine upon their return. Speaking of which, last year Miller released a followup, Apollo 11: Quarantine, a 25-minute mini-doc that follows the same format as Apollo 11 but focuses solely on the quarantine. I haven’t seen it yet, but hopefully someday it will be released on a two-fer Blu Ray along with Apollo 11

Chasing The Moon (2019): This 3-part, 6-hour documentary is right up there with Apollo 11, and indeed even surpasses it at times given that there’s just so much more to it, and also due to the emotional content (to quote my man Bruce Lee). I was a bit skittish about watching this one, not due to the length, but because it was a PBS production…and folks sure the hell enough, one of the very first things you hear in Part 1 is someone talking about “racism.” But thankfully this stuff is not nearly dwelt upon as much as you’d expect from a PBS venture, and truth be told the Left comes off so poorly in Part 3 that I’m surrpised some of the material wasn’t cut out! Overall though director Robert Stone has attempted the herculean task of taking us through the space race in 6 hours, focusing mostly on the Apollo Program and the race to the moon. What separates this from Apollo 11 is that, while everything we see is vintage film (and it looks just as spectacular here, remastered in high def), what we often hear is modern comments from the various participants. So while we never actually see them, we’ll hear the comments of astronauts like Michael Collins, Buzz Aldrin, Frank Borman, and Bill Anders, as well as newsreporters of the day and engineers and scientists from NASA. This is in addition to the vintage audio we’ll also hear. 

This modern, reflecting-back-on-events motif adds an extra dimension to Chasing The Moon. We even hear a good bit from Nikita Khrushcev’s son, who fills us in on the Russian side of the space race. Apollo 11 was awesome because it came off like this huge, 70MM document of July ’69, but Chasing The Moon is much broader-ranging and much more comprehensive. It isn’t the ultimate space race documentary, though; the Mercury Program is barely mentioned and Gemini is only detailed for a few missions, plus the post-Apollo 11 moon landings are almost humorously relegated to a postcript. But regardless this is such a well-crafted documentary that the 6 hours fly by…save, that is, for some of Part 1, which is the most ponderous of the three parts, mostly due to it being comprised mainly of black-and-white footage detailing the beginnings of the space race. That being said, Part 1 has an opening that surpasses anything in Apollo 11; Stone begins the documentary with the launch of Apollo 11, using the typical footage originally filmed for Moonwalk One (see below), but he pairs it with the song “Wait” by M83. This is Coldplay/Radiohead-type music I typically wouldn’t listen to, but it pairs so perfectly with the Apollo 11 launch that now I “hear” the song when I see the launch in other documentaries. This sequence was the highlight for me of Chasing The Moon (it gave me chills the first time I saw it, if you must know, and you can check it out here in the extended Part 1 preview on Youtube; I have it cued to start right before the launch).  But there are many more highlights. 

While Part 1 details how the space race began, closing with the sad end of JFK, Part 2 dives into the Gemini and Apollo Programs. Stone incorporates vintage footage of the actual space missions discussed – and again it looks incredible in high-def – including Neil Armstrong’s near crash in a Gemini mission, as well as the Apollo 1 disaster. This sequence is very hard to watch as we actually see the Apollo 1 crew get in the command capsule, even sitting in there and happily filming each other as they wait for the countdown sequence, and we know as we watch that these three men will not be leaving the capsule alive. The screen cuts to black and we hear their cries for help over the commlink as a fire rages in the cockpit. Stone well captures the effect of the program on the families of the astronauts.  The most emotionally-gripping sequence in the entirety of Chasing The Moon turns out not to be a launch or a moon landing, but astronaut Frank Borman’s wife Susan sitting in front of her TV set, with friends and family around her, as she watches her husband take off for the moon – the first crew to ever attempt it – on Apollo 8, in Christmas of 1968. This material, filmed originally by Life Magazine as a way to “help” NASA understand the effect of launches on families, is salvaged by Stone, who shows Susan Borman the entire time her husband is launching off into space. In other words Stone makes her – and her incredible anxiety – the focus, not the rocket launch itself. It is one of the most gripping things I’ve watched in a very long time; the misery on Mrs. Borman’s face as she watches the launch on TV is not faked or contrived for the media…and made all the more profound because the widow of one of the Apollo 1 astronauts is standing behind her. 

Speaking of Frank Borman, the poor guy did have a hard time of it; via voiceover, he and his fellow crewmen reveal that Borman was hit by stomach flu shortly after launch, and he spent the first few hours spewing out of “both ends!” That said, the Apollo 8 mission went on to great success; the three crewmembers were the first to actually leave Earth’s orbit, and took the famous “Blue Marble” photo of the Earthrise. Their initial trip around the dark side of the moon could’ve been a little more dramatized, but then I might just be spoiled by the way the group Public Service Broadcasting dramatized it in their song “The Other Side,” off their 2015 The Race For Space album. Apollo 8 is the centerpiece of Part 2, but curiously Stone ends the episode a little off-toned with a brief sequence on Poppy Northcutt, the first female NASA engineer who tells us that the sexism of the era made her become a feminist. Honestly though her story on sexism is a little undermined because they show various photos and film clips of her, and of course she’s a total babe (if you’ll pardon my male gaze – but then hardly any of us would be here if it wasn’t for the male gaze, now would we??), posing in various mini-skirts. I suspect Ms. Northcutt would’ve been hit on no matter what industry she worked in. That said, her comments are great to hear, as she was one of the techinicians who determined how to bring the spacecrafts back to Earth. 

Part 3 concerns the July 1969 moon landing of Apollo 11, and this entire sequence is also gripping, and also at times a little more emotionally-connecting than Apollo 11 because Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins share their thoughts with us. Since Stone already showed the launch at the beginning of Part 1, he doesn’t replay it here; instead he takes the interesting angle of cutting from the launch to CBS news’s coverage of the event. I found all this fascinating; Watler Cronkite, who features throughout the documentary given that he was the journalist who was most connected with the space pgrogram, ran special coverage of the launch, with a production that cost the then-unheard of amount of 2 million dollars. Running for 36 hours, the special featured live-in-the-studio actors playing out the things the Apollo 11 crew were doing in space, and also Cronkite had his very own “HAL” computer to converse with; we’re told that Douglas Trumbull, special effects man for 2001, was hired for the production. I wouldn’t be caught dead watching a modern-day CBS news production, but good grief I’d eagerly sit through this entire “Man On The Moon” broadcast! 

Given that Chasing The Moon has narration from modern-day experts and astronauts, the “1202” alarm is more fully explained here than in Apollo 11, and also it’s made very clear how close to the wire Armstrong was to running out of fuel on landing. That being said, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins actually had more compelling things to say in the 2007 documentary In The Shadow Of The Moon (to be reviewed next time); here Stone not only includes their comments but from various Mission Control people and newscasters as well. The moon landing is, rightly, the centerpiece of Part 3, but we do get back to that “racism” material that we saw in the beginning minutes of Part 1. Basically a delegation led by Ralph Abernathy, a reverend who picked up where Martin Luther King left off, arrived at the Apollo 11 launch and decried the situation, in which billions were spent on space but racism prevailed on earth. What’s great here is that a NASA exec comes out to talk to them and basically says, “Look, we’d love to press a button and solve your problems, but our mission here is a different one.” The exec then goes on to offer them some VIP tickets to watch the launch (the cynic in me suspects that’s what they were after all along), and everyone’s happy and the delegation applauds and all is well. 

This part was for me the most depressing sequence in Chasing The Moon. I didn’t exactly need a reminder, but it was just more of an indication of how far we have fallen as a society and as a country. Civil discourse as shown here no longer exists. Now the mob rules in America; the louder you scream and shout, the quicker your demands are met. Could you imagine if Apollo 11 was happening now and a delegation of BLM and antifa rolled up to protest? Do you think they would engage in rational, civil discourse with NASA like Abernathy’s delegation did? Of course they wouldn’t. They’re incapable of it. Which brings me to another sad element of Part 3: Frank Borman relates that he was hired by President Nixon to go around college campuses in 1969 to talk about the space effort. Borman says that he met irrational anger everywhere, that he was spat upon as a representative of “the Establishment;” at one point he had to be helicoptered onto a campus because it was blocked off by rioters. Stone shows clips from this – including a great bit where Borman takes on a radical hippie chick – and it gave me flashbacks to our recent “summer of love” with its “mostly-peaceful protests.” Just another reminder of the irratonal hate and anger that has always consumed the Left. And of course those college kids went on to get into politics and education and God knows what else…which honestly goes a long way in explaining the chaos and increasing totalitarianism of the modern day. (But hey, at least we don’t have to deal with mean Tweets anymore, right??) 

So if you can’t tell, Chasing The Moon not only entertained me, but it involved me emotionally. And not just in how I was swept up in the spectacle of it all, with the sacrifices of the various people involved, but also in how it made me angry – angry that America was once capable of this type of exceptionalism. I was born five years after the first moon landing…actually, two years after the last moon landing, in ’72. So at no point in my life has there ever been anyone on the moon. The argument put forth by the various protesters in Chasing The Moon is that the billions could’ve been used to stop poverty, and racism, and injustices, and etc. Well, NASA was basically gutted in the early ‘70s…and yet all those problems are still here. Maybe the country should have kept putting money into the space effort; who knows where we’d be by now. Neil Armstrong was certainly upset with how it turned out (per an interview he gave before he died, which I’ll mention next time). Speaking of which an interesting nugget I learned in the final half of Part 3 was that Vice President Spiro Agnew, immediately after Apollo 11 landed on the moon, challenged the country to get to Mars before the end of the 20th Century…! 

Indeed, Part 3 ends with a lot of “could have beens.” Most interestingly we see that Werner Von Braun, in the weeks after Apollo 11, proposed to Congress an extensive plan to get to Mars by 1986 – using nuclear reactors as an additional stage on new Saturn rockets – but he was met with disinterest. (We get to see a lot of the NASA art for this material, and it’s very cool.) We also see current plans in the reborn space era, of SpaceX and whatnot, with CGI of future landings…CGI which honestly looks pretty clunky when compared to the cool vintage animation elsewhere in the doc. The “Man on the Moon” CBS special in particular boasts some cool ’60-style animation. But the feeling in the last minutes of Part 3 is one of sadness, and Stone makes his own feelings clear – humanity achived greatness in the ‘60s, but totally turned its back on it in the following decades. There’s no telling what could have been, but there’s also no denying the greatness that was achieved. 

I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed watching Chasing The Moon. I plan to watch it again someday. It’s available to view for free on the PBS website. I heartily encourage you to watch it. 

Moonwalk One (1972): I wasn’t even aware of this documentary until I read the Vanity Fair article article I mentioned above, in the Apollo 11 review. The story as recounted there goes like this: MGM had a deal with NASA in the ‘60s to make a big-budget film about the Apollo program. But for reasons unknown MGM backed out shortly before Apollo 11. NASA took the film that was going to be used for the project – big 70MM stuff that was used for “event” roadshow movies of the day – and hired a documentary filmmaker named Theo Kamecke to make a documentary about the launch, just a few weeks before it was scheduled to occur. Further, NASA requested a sort of “time capsule” of the era itself. Kamecke filmed the astronauts preparing for the launch, and the launch itself – with the novel idea of turning the cameras around on the spectactors – and then spent the next two years finalizing the documentary, complete with material on how the spacesuits were made and how the astronauts were trained. In ’72 the movie was released, but on a very limited scale; indeed, it never even got outside a few select showings, ultimately relegated to a forgotten (aka “cult”) status. The official explanation is that by 1972 no one was much interested in the moon landings anymore, and that may be, but viewed now Moonwalk One comes off as a wonderfully unique and “vaguely trippy” (as the article above so aptly describes it) document of its era. Later filmmakers, in particular Apollo 11’s Todd Douglas Miller, have taken Kamecke’s footage – including material he left in the vaults – and included it in their own documentaries. 

NASA’s official Youtube channel has put up a 4k print of the theatrical release, and friends Moonwalk One is such an awesome document of the late ‘60s that I can’t believe I’ve never heard of it before. Kamecke was so insipred by Kubrick’s 2001 that it hurts – I mean the flick even opens with shots of Stonehenge and, a la the twirling bone cross-fading into an orbiting spaceship in 2001, we fade from the ancient monument to the massive “crawler” that moved the Saturn V rocket. Everything, from the way the movie’s directed to the pretentious, New Agey narration, just screams “1969,” and it couldn’t be cooler as a result. What’s fascinating is that so many later directors took their footage from Kamecke’s shots of the spectators at the Apollo 11 launch, as well as the launch itself, but whereas Apollo 11 treated it with gravitas and Chasing The Moon treated it with a sort of elegiac sadness, Kamecke just shows it as-is, with worbly “sci-fi” music on the soundtrack. 

More importantly, Moonwalk One is more of a documentary than any of the other movies reviewed here; Kamecke tells us how Apollo will fly to the moon, how the astronauts have trained for space, and even how their spacesuits were sewn. This bit in particular is fascinating; we see the old sewing machine these ladies used to create the suits, all while we hear them talking in voiceover – including the great detail that each of them wonder if it’s “their” glove that Neil Armstrong will be wearing when he gets to the moon. Also cool is the footage on astronaut training, complete with guys being thrown around on catapult-like chairs, biking in extreme heat, and being put through other obstacles. And through it all we have this late ‘60s aesthetic of off-skew camera angles, oscilating sci-fi synth blips, random avante-garde montages of people on earth (including even people dancing in a psychedelic discotheque), clips from the Flash Gordon serial, and other randomness. And the narration is so worthy of vintage Shatner that you wonder why Kamacke didn’t just hire him…I’m talking stuff like, “It is good to see the whole Earth. It is good to see the Earth…whole.” 

I went into Moonwalk One thinking it might be the worst of the lot, but damned if I didn’t find it the most entertaining, just for its trippy vibe. And I love how it is absolutely without sentiment. But Kamecke was not privy to a lot of the footage that so many of these later documentaries rely on; moon footage is scant, and mostly relegated to the ghostly images seen originally on TV. Also the docking of Eagle and Columbia isn’t as fleshed out as it is in other documentaries, particularly Apollo 11. As a snapshot of the era, of what people were thinking and feeling at the time, it can’t be beat, though. There is none of the wistfulness of Chasing The Moon; this is future stuff, and one gets the impression that “Moonwalk One” will just be the first of many, many more moonwalks. But all those later documentaries have taken so much from this one, so Moonwalk One is essential viewing for anyone interested in the Apollo program…and it’s a mystery to me why it’s so little known. 

In 2007 Moonwalk One was remastered and released on DVD in a “Director’s Cut,” running a few minutes longer than the original release. Supposedly this was also released on Blu Ray (in the UK only), but damned if I can find a copy anywhere. In fact it’s baffling that this movie hasn’t been re-released on a greater scale. Anyway the Director’s Cut certainly looks better, with a much wider screen image, than the 4:3 upload on Youtube – but then I’ve read that Moonwalk One was released theatrically in 4:3, the widescreen picture cut down in the process. Thus the Director’s Cut rectifies this, but at the same time the picture is cropped when compared to the 4:3 original release; a small portion at the top and bottom is cut off of the Director’s Cut. 

As for the new footage, I compared the original cut and the Director’s Cut and found that the Director’s Cut contains the following “new” footage: More shots of random people during the opening song montage, including some employes flipping burgers in a Burger King(!), a kissing couple, and more shots of people dancing in that awesome psychedelic discotheque; more footage of the crowd waiting for the rocket to launch, including a somewhat patronizing bit where the narrator asks “Why did they come here?” of the crowd, stating that they could see everything much better on TV (I mean duh, they’re here to witness history…you know, the very history you are documenting with this movie!!); and finally the most extensive cut material: an avante-garde montage of news snippets from around the world, including butchered Nixon speeches, which plays right after we see Buzz Aldrin fixing himself a sandwich in zero-g. This part alone is incredibly “late ‘60s,” with rapid-fire cuts of newscasts – Kamecke skillfully playing off how Mission Control is reading Buzz the news over the commlink – but it’s also clear why it was cut from the original release. Other than that, there is no additional “new” footage I could detect in the Director’s Cut. 

I’ve watched more space race documentaries, but I’ve ran on so much here that I’ll have to write about them in a later Random Movie Review. In the meantime… 


Sound Of Genesis – Journey To The Moon (Buddah Records, 1969): I mentioned this one before. To this day this is the best “blind purchase” I’ve ever made in the clearance rack of a vinyl store. Journey To The Moon could be seen as a cash-in on the moon landing (or “moonsploitation” as I like to call it), but I’ve played this LP many times since I got it. What we have here are actual NASA recordings, from the astronauts to Mission Control, taking us from launch to return…with super-groovy psychedelic mod easy listening music throughout. Fuzzy guitars, electronic SFX, a muted horn and orchestra section straight out of the Barbarella soundtrack, the works. I mean nowhere else will you hear Nixon’s call to Neil and Buzz while an electric sitar plays in the background. It’s both corny and cool. The LP alternates between instrumentals and “vocal” sections in which we hear narration as well as actual recordings of the launch and landing – and even these sequences have music in the background. 

I loved this LP so much that I actually digitized it to MP3, though admittedly I did it on my old setup: Audio-Technica AT-LP60 turntable with an ATN3600DLX conical stylus. (I’ve become such an audio geek that I wouldn’t even think about playing a record on that turntable these days!!) Anyway, I’d love to share Journey To The Moon with you all; it clearly didn’t do well, as it only received this initial Buddah pressing. No CD or digital releases as of yet. So, please follow this Mega link to download it – and let me know what you think!


TrueAim said...

Joe - Thanks so much for digitizing and uploading Journey To The Moon for us. I can see why you love it, it's so eclectic, unique and such a cool slice of history. Track 7 "Lunar Walk" is my fave. Listening to it, it put a lump in my throat, really; starkly reminding me of how patriotic and united America was back during that amazing period in our history. Still hard to believe we put men on the moon back then before the advent of "high-tech." Such an amazing feat, and this album is a great homage to that accomplishment and the ballsy astronauts and NASA geniuses who achieved it.

Joe Kenney said...

Hi TrueAim, thanks for the note and glad to hear you enjoy the LP! To tell the truth I'm impressed you made it all the way through that seemingly-neverending screed to even find the link to the LP! I have played that album so many times it all flows together as one piece for me almost, especially on MP3 with no "side flipping" breaks. I think my favorite track might be "The Computer," where they give the drummer some. FYI that one's humorously misspelled as "The Computor" on the LP cover, which actually makes it sound even more sci-fi.

Totally agree with your thoughts on the moon landing and how incredible it is that it was once possible. I think the biggest miss is that NASA just kept going up for rocks; they should've started building a lunar base so as to harness energy and all the other projects that were supposedly possible on the moon -- I've got a book by Von Braun's assistant from 1970 that gives a "projected future" of what could be done one the moon. Or maybe they could've opened it up to some land developers who could've opened "Moon Hiltons" and etc for other words, I think the public lost interest cause all these guys were doing, so far as they knew, was flying up there at great expense to harvest rocks. But if people could've gotten interested with the possibility of going to the moon themselves -- maybe even staying there overnight -- there might have been more involvement in the space program instead of just virtually dying overnight. But that's just what I think.

TrueAim said...

Well, a hotel on the moon would be awesome! With Branson and Bezos currently leading the pack of mega-rich elites taking trips into space, you're probably prognosticating the inevitable--a hotel on the moon, or at least a space station-type version. I'm sure the VIP suites will only cost $2,000,000 a night. LOL.

Still surprised the Russians never put a man on the moon--especially since they were the first to land a man-made craft on it. Or even the Chinese. Guess like you alluded to, it's a cost-benefit thing. What's the payoff? Mars might be the real goal now. Who can get to the red planet first!

Guy Callaway said...

Right with you on 'Apollo 11'!
Not really my interest area, but it blew me away. Apart from the stunning visuals, I really enjoyed, as you mention, the lack of 'talking heads'. In most docs, they just describe what's been shown.
It's become a bad cliche, particularly with ones around film genres. I like Joe Dante, but he shows up in every other one I watch! ;)

Guy Callaway said...


'Mars might be the real goal now. Who can get to the red planet first!'

Forget that. It's full of monsters!

Joe Kenney said...

Hi Guy, glad you enjoyed Apollo 11! I've watched a ton of space race documentaries over the past months, and that one is still the high water mark. I'd really like to see the followup: "Apollo 11 Quarantine." The crazy thing about those stunning visuals at the launch is that they were all filmed by the director of "Moonwalk One," but he didn't use any of the shots in his documenatry! So they just sat in an archive for a few decades until the director of Apollo 11 got hold of them. There's a short documentary on the recovery of the footage on Youtube.

Guy Callaway said...

Thanks, Joe.
I'm kinda a hound for (well done) docs on most any subject.
Just watched 'Hell's Highway: The True Story Of Highway Safety Films'(2003), so there you go. ;)