Rating : ★★★★☆
“It’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
50 years ago, man first set foot on the moon, the American flag was raised and world history was made. The film Apollo 11 is a documentary which showcases the moon landing that occurred on 20 July 1969, including footage from inside the control room and stunning sights of the moon and Earth from space.
The first thing that was noticeable about the film was the amazing camera quality, since you would not have expected footage from that long ago to be so clear; this made for a powerful and immersive cinematic experience. The decision to use solely original footage, with no additional commentary or narration, also added to the compelling effect of the movie; it made it seem as though you were actually a part of the mission, listening to the same status updates and communications as the people in the control room. You find yourself on the edge of your seat, worrying right along with the people on screen about whether or not the mission will go to plan. You forget that you already know what happens and start imagining the possibilities for tragedy that could occur, and feeling the same fear for the astronauts’ lives that everyone felt when it was all happening for the first time.
The film showcases the level of patriotism and pride that the whole country was feeling. At the start of the film, you can see thousands of Americans camping out on the shores across from the Kennedy Space Center, Merritt Island, Florida. You can also feel the excitement in the atmosphere; families with small children and many people representing press are sitting on the bonnets of their American sports cars. They’ve been there since the early hours of the morning, in order to see the liftoff at 8:32am. It is an impressive sight with the five rocket engines burning 20 tonnes of kerosene and hydrogen fuel per second so the Apollo can get 42 miles above Earth.
While the film is very well-executed overall, some aspects could have been improved. First of all, even though the sole use of raw footage resulted in quite an immersive viewing experience, it also meant that the storyline of events was harder to follow; one piece of footage would contain numerous technical terms, which would go without explanation, and it was sometimes unclear what their significance actually was. In addition to this, it was often hard to make out what was being said (as the audio recordings are from so long ago), which added to the difficulty in trying to understand exactly what was going on.
It was very informative and quite surprising to learn how many people were actually to make the mission possible occur and with as few problems as possible. 400,000 people made up the backup team: engineers, scientists and technicians and you get a little ‘sneak-peak’ of what it was like in the control rooms in Houston and the type of people who occupied the jobs there.
Overall, it was a good length and even though it wasn’t overly action-packed, it does send your heart racing at times. At 93 minutes long, it was enough time to capture important detail but not too long to bore or get too repetitive.
Go and see this film if you want to know more about Apollo 11 and be inspired by space exploration.
By Sophia Brown and Isabella Davidson