APOLLO 11 – Happy 50th Anniversary with One of the Greatest Documentaries Ever Made

Fifty years ago today, or most likely tomorrow in the USA, a little space pod known as APOLLO 11, from Earth, made history and became the first aircraft flown by humans (that we know of) to land on a foreign planet, or planetary object……our moon. Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins made it all the way safely to the moon and back and the world went crazy and the USA won the space race. The end – it was over.

It was highly convenient and a marvellous goldmine find that just before the 50th anniversary of the moon landing that unseen 65mm footage and countless hours of audio recordings were found or released from secured holdings. APOLLO 11 is the culmination of archival recordings 50yrs in the making into a documentary that has more tension and science fiction goosebumps than Hollywood produced blockbusters.

APOLLO 11 is out now in selected Australian cinemas from Madman Films. IT MUST BE SEEN – for cinemas screening it see the link at the bottom of this post. It is rated G and runs for 93mins. Every man, woman on child on Earth would LOVE this movie and schools should make it compulsory viewing.

Apollo 11 Earth from Moon image
Earth from Moon

BY JASON KING

APOLLO 11 – An Unmissable Cinematic Experience

From director Todd Douglas Miller (Dinosaur 13) comes a cinematic event fifty years in the making. Crafted from a newly discovered trove of 65mm footage, and more than 11,000 hours of uncatalogued audio recordings, Apollo 11 takes us straight to the heart of NASA’s most celebrated mission – the one that first put men on the moon, and forever made Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin into household names. (We love you too Michael Collins).

Immersed in the perspectives of the astronauts, the team in Mission Control, and the millions of spectators on the ground, we vividly experience those momentous days and hours in 1969 when humankind took a giant leap into the future.

Apollo 11 Crew image
Apollo 11 Crew

JUST WOW:

I don’t know what to say – I was so spellbound by this film. The greatest thing I took from it was that while watching it I was on the edge of my seat for 93mins wondering if they would make it or not. The tension is high and weirdest thing is we all know the outcome but it doesn’t matter because it is made so well. There isn’t one word of narration, it all just unfolds with a soundtrack from Eric Milano, a sound designer/ mixing re-recorder who only used instruments available at the time. It gives a pulse and heart to the film that is hard to beat using modern instruments.

Director Todd Douglas Miller and his crew were given unhindered access to everything in the archives, you get to see angles, cuts and entire scenes of footage never before seen in documentaries or on the news. You are in the shuttle with them – hell, you feel like you are actually in there with them. There is some good humour, some incredibly tense times, and more importantly it is personal, you actually get to know them.

Some of the best footage is taken on the ground, in the audience, with the crowds of the public from 1969; the clothing, the music, the hair and the sense of history are astounding. And if you look close and know what they look like you will see Jimmy Carson and Isaac Asimov in that audience of the public viewing history being made.

Apollo 11 Buzz Aldrin image
Buzz Aldrin

A TECHNOLOGICAL MARVEL:

From the 1969 Universal Logo at the start of the film to the end of the film everything you see is awe inspiring. Being NASA everything is done to near perfection, and their archiving of footage is probably the best on the planet. Next to no restoration was done to footage. And being in 65mm it seriously looks like it was filmed in digital HD last year.

The team that put together this documentary used the work that Ben Feist did when he increased the quality of 11,000 hours of digitized audio recordings taken during the Apollo 11 launch, according to an article in the New York Times on March 8, 2019. Feist also detailed the recordings by minute and second, making it easier for the documentary team to sync up audio and video sequences. **

Several of the recordings captured by the astronauts during the mission are featured in this documentary. These recordings by Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins earned them honorary memberships in the American Society of Cinematographers. **

I am still in shock and looking forward to seeing APOLLO 11 again – I even want this one on 4K Blu Ray and wish to congratulate Todd Douglas Miller early on his pending Oscar win haha.

Apollo 11 Neil Armstrong on the Moon image
Neil Armstrong on the Moon

IN CONCLUSION:

Up there as one of the greatest documentaries ever made APOLLO 11 is a film that NEEDS TO BE SEEN IMMEDIATELY. It puts you in the cockpit of the space shuttle with Neil, Buzz and Michael and has footage so well archived it looks like it was shot on HD Digital in the last couple of years. Even know you know the outcome there is as much tension as watching GRAVITY or APOLLO 13. Do yourself a favour and put this in the calendar.

CINEMAS SCREENING APOLLO 11

** Some italicised paragraphs are taken (with thanks) from IMDB Trivia and Facts **

YOUR CRITIC:

Jason King owns, writes and edits Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Australian Film Critics Association and has been in the Australian movie industry for 26yrs. Furthermore he loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan. 

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher. Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.