Lack Of Narration Is Great;
I’ve been fascinated by space and its exploration my entire life. The seemingly-endless list of technology and advancements that have been brought about by space travel is undeniably impressive and life-altering, and while it may have been born (to some extent) from the Americans and Russians having a decades-long penis measuring contest, it changed everything. These days, we take everything we have gained from space missions for granted, despite having more power on one device in our pockets than these old spacecraft could muster. Humanity has always looked to the heavens with questions and curiosity and that will never stop, and when you consider the colossal task of flying a craft from Earth to the moon, landing, taking off again and returning safely o Earth, I don’t know how you don’t walk away with an incredible sense of awe and inspiration.
Unlike traditional documentaries, this doesn’t have a narrator guiding you along the story, or cuts to interviews with the people involved. You follow the Apollo 11 mission from the last minute preparations and launch through the entire trip to the moon, the landing, and the return flight to Earth. It is magical to watch, and all dialogue you hear comes from recordings made during the mission. You’re hearing the real conversations between mission control and the astronauts, and all footage once they leave the atmosphere is shot by that same crew of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. Director Todd Douglas Miller isn’t trying to slant or push any sort of narrative. He just presents to the audience the most remarkable trip humanity has ever embarked upon. And it is truly a spectacle to both watch and listen to. Matt Morton’s score is as bombastic and attention-grabbing as the mission was to American TV audiences in 1969, and it floored me. For my money, it’s the score to beat so far in 2019.
The only shots we see that aren’t direct from the days of the mission are some simple animations to illustrate certain maneuvers the spacecraft had to make, as well as their trajectory to and from the lunar surface. Images are paneled together, especially those inside NASA, and it gives an amazing sense of just how massive these missions were. The sheer number of people and work involved is staggering, and these scenes do a great job driving that point home, as every single person you see not only has a task to perform, but a vital one. Everything needed to work together in perfect harmony to pull this off, and it did. And not just for the mission, but for the film as well.
I hope films like this serve as a reminder to people of why the space program is so important. I hope we continue to look up and wonder, daring to explore what may seem impossible. And I hope we, as a species, keep getting there.
Apollo 11 is Directed by Todd Douglas Miller