There was one point in our history where we wanted to touch the stars and explore what lies beyond our planet. Even if for some it was only to beat out the Russians (who have sadly never stopped being our mortal enemy), lots of people believed in the potential of expanding our society to other parts of the solar system. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission; the first time we ever set foot on the surface of the moon (yes, we did go to the moon). To commemorate this occasion, a new documentary about it has been released.
Using restored footage, Apollo 11 follows the details of the mission; the lead-up to the launch, the launch itself, the journey to the moon, the tasks performed by the astronauts, and the journey back to Earth. Every last detail is covered over the course of the 93 minute runtime, with a few bits of 60s nostalgia for anyone who’s old enough to remember that time period. All of this makes for a documentary that has its own unique feel.
The film features no video interviews with anyone involved, only using the audio recordings of NASA employees, scientists, and interviews to narrate the footage of the event. With no cuts to interviews on screen, this allows the audience to be more engaged with the facts. It’s only the audio guiding us through their difficult journey.
Of course, one of the highlights of the film is the footage. The restoration of the video that was shot back then is near perfect. It looks like footage that could have been shot today; that’s how clean it is. It’s look and feel can compare to that of the cinematography in last year’s Neil Armstrong biopic, First Man. This film had a very similar type of grainy, old-fashioned look to it.
One minor issue is that, even though this movie states the facts of Apollo 11, there isn’t anything entirely new here. We’ve been told the story of the mission so many times that there really isn’t much left to know. So at times, the film feels like a retread of things we’ve already been taught before. The only difference would be the visual presentation of the film, which is often enough to make the film fascinating besides being mostly facts we already know.
Apollo 11 never bores the audience, but engages them by stating the facts of the mission in a way that furthers the overall story. The restoration work on the footage is crystal clear and the path of the film never strays from its destination. It may slow down a bit and present nothing entirely new, but the way it’s made is often enough to still enjoy it. If you’re looking for something that can effectively teach people about the titular mission, then this film is the tool to use.