A look at the Apollo 11 mission to land on the moon led by commander Neil Armstrong and pilots Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins.
‘First Man’ was my favourite film of last year, a film that attempted to get inside the psyche of Neil Armstrong and to understand what drove him to ultimately become the first man to land on the moon. This acclaimed documentary from Todd Douglas Miller, produced to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the moon landings, peels back the layers even further to provide an immersive, detailed retelling of the story of what happened to make this mission successful. Miller takes a direct cinema approach, using solely archival footage with no voiceover narration or interviews, and it serves to put the viewer right at the heart of the experience, and I was utterly riveted throughout.
The film begins shortly before Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins ascended into space, detailing the meticulous preparation that went into the mission, as well as capturing the level of public interest through tracking helicopter shots showing the busy crowds of people waiting and watching. The editing is smart and purposeful and it helps to make a well known event feel as thrilling and momentous to audiences now as it did back in 1969, and I particularly liked how the film manages to sell the sheer scale of the number of people involved to make it all happen. Matt Morton’s score is the perfect accompaniment, a bolt of pure adrenaline that sends a shiver down the spine, and I’ll be seeking it out afterwards. Despite knowing what happens, ‘Apollo 11’ maintains a level of suspense, and when it comes, the moon landing footage is as wondrous and awe inspiring as it was the first time around.
‘Apollo 11‘ is an outstanding documentary, deeply insightful but also every bit as engaging and dramatic as any fictionalised movie, and this should, and I think will, go down as the definitive account of mankind’s greatest achievement. It’s only 90 minutes long as well, so take the time to seek it out if it’s showing near you.
Directed By: Todd Douglas Miller