In the Shadow of the Moon
Rated PG; Directed by David Sington
The documentary In the Shadow of the Moon brings back memories of my favorite part of growing up: watching astronauts make those amazing trips to the moon. Memories include feeling awe as Apollo 8 orbits around the moon at Christmas, the family gathered around the TV to watch Neil Armstrong’s first step on the moon, and seeing the beautiful photographs brought back from the surface of the moon; really how could I not grow up a space geek? In the Shadow of the Moon brings out that geekness in me. Director David Sington puts together wonderful footage and has the astronauts themselves talk about what it was like to go to the moon.
Being a geek, I didn’t find a lot of new information in this movie, but what is new is some of the film footage that NASA had laying about on their shelves. In some cases this is the first time the footage has been seen since put into storage cans. Sington knows how to combine the footage mixed with the interviews of the surviving astronauts. The only astronaut not sharing his memories is the reclusive Neil Armstrong, but Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, his shipmates, are there to tell what it was like to travel to the moon. We even get to hear some great trivia not mentioned by NASA. Where else can you hear what Aldrin did before stepping foot on the moon?
With only the narration offered by the astronauts, In the Shadow of the Moon has a narrow focus on the space race. If you’ve seen the HBO series “From the Earth to the Moon” or Ron Howard’s Apollo 13 a lot of the information is familiar. Yet listening to these men tell us what it felt like to be the explorers to a new world offers an interesting take on those historical events.
The documentary is not perfect for TV. The explanatory text often displayed is too small for television. Some of the moon trips also get short shrift. But the DVD makes up for that with plenty of bonus features. More interviews, along with extra video add even more depth to the story. There are also other segments, including a piece on the scoring of the documentary, a look at the making of the documentary, and an audio commentary by the director and editor.
If you have always taken it for granted that we, once upon a time, sent men to the moon, this film shows us in a fresh way how the astronauts experienced it all. It also shows us how old they are. The old space geek in me wants to know when will we return to the moon — can’t we create a new generation of space geeks?