‘Apollo 11’ is a stunning record of one of humanity’s greatest achievements

Half a century after the moon landing, the event has become, for most people, just another fact of history. It’s something we only remember in the first place because it was so momentous, but it’s so commonly known that any thrill associated with it has long since faded. 

In other words, sure, it’s cool that humans have walked on the moon. But when’s the last time you really stopped to realize that, Holy shit, we landed on the frickin’ moon?

Thank goodness, then, that we have films like Apollo 11 to reminds us of that original wonder. 

Director Todd Douglas Miller combed through hours of 65mm archival footage never before seen by the public, and audio left uncatalogued for decades, to cut together this 93-minute journey to the moon and back. These historical recordings are accompanied only by by a few captions, a few diagrams, and Matt Morton’s elegant score, with nary a talking head or dramatic voiceover to be seen or heard.

When I saw Apollo 11 in a theater last month, the footage looked clear and crisp, as if it had just been captured yesterday; I hear it is better still in IMAX. It has the impact of transporting us right back to those few thrilling days in July 1969, recreating some of the anticipation and astonishment that must have surrounded the event.

Some of the images we see here are obvious showstoppers, made all the more moving by the realization that, for example, these must have been some of the first images anyone had ever seen of our little blue planet from that perspective. There are fiery explosions, and dispatches from space, and celebrations in the NASA control room, as you’d expect from any telling of this story.

It’s the quieter moments that make Apollo 11 so breathtaking to behold.

But much of Apollo 11 is spent simply watching people watch that journey – the NASA engineers monitoring the trip, the newscasters reporting on the event, the ordinary citizens gathering in parking lots and craning their necks for a glimpse of the launch. 

Paradoxically, it’s these quieter moments that make Apollo 11 so breathtaking to behold. They situate us with these people, and we get swept up along with them in the drama of the moment. Through them, we get a taste of how must have felt to see humankind achieve something we only recently realized was even possible, but that we’d been dreaming about since we first looked up at the sky.

We understand how much blood, sweat, tears, and sheer luck went into planning and executing the mission; what it meant to the astronauts, the engineers, and even regular folks to see something like this happen; how it united seemingly everyone on Earth in awe, if only for a moment. 

In that way, it’s a bit like last year’s First Man, a fictionalized account of the Apollo 11 mission from Neil Armstrong’s perspective, which similarly focused on tiny details that made the ultimate triumph feel all the bigger. If you’ve seen that movie, Apollo 11 makes for a perfect complement.

But even if you haven’t, Apollo 11 makes for a stunning experience on its own. It doesn’t matter that we’ve heard this story a thousand times before and know exactly how it ends. Or that our species has gone on to ever more advanced accomplishments, like sending a robot friend to scope out Mars

Because, again, we went to the frickin’ moon. We did that! Not only that, we came back to tell the tale! It’s worth stopping to appreciate that every once in a while, even if it was 50 years ago. And if this celebration of human ambition and ingenuity inspires this generation to reach for even greater things, we’re all the better for it.

Apollo 11 is playing in theaters now. 

from Mashable! http://bit.ly/2Tlny6m