Local opening date: 9/28/2007
Reviewed by Diane Carson
Determined to beat
the Russians to the Moon, on May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy challenged
the nation to, "put a man on the Moon and return him safely to Earth by the end
of the decade." At this point, the U.S. had successfully completed
exactly one suborbital flight for a total of 15 minutes. But in April, 1961, a Russian
Cosmonaut orbited the Earth, and the race ensued. In the Shadow of the Moon chronicles the American space effort
through interviews with astronauts from every Apollo mission to the Moon-a who's
who of brilliant, personable individuals: Buzz Aldrin, Jim Lovell, Gene Cernan,
Alan Bean, and more. Without any voiceover narration, they directly address the
camera with their recollections illustrated by previously unseen, breathtaking
NASA footage remastered for this documentary. In the greatest irony, the team behind
this important historical record is entirely British, including director David
Facing the camera in extreme
close-ups, the astronauts remember the nine missions to the Moon between 1968
and 1972 during which time a dozen men walked on the Moon. Distinctive and
engaging, the astronauts relate revealing insights about each other through, at
times, quite amusing anecdotes. But the dramatic testimony steals the stage and
evokes long-forgotten awe: the realization that NASA accomplished these
missions with computer technology less than now found in the average cell
phone. Also striking is television footage from around the world, Walter
Cronkite clearly overcome with Apollo 11's first Moon landing, and the
connections with the Vietnam War, race protests, and the women's movement.
However, no commentary addresses the lack of women or minorities.
In the Shadow of the Moon won the World
Cinema Audience Award at this year's Sundance Film Festival. Telling an
intriguing, extraordinary story with such charismatic astronauts, it's easy to
see why. Above all it reminds us of the accomplishments when we undertook
scientific challenges and triumphed. At area theatres.
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