Film review ‘APOLLO 11’ by Nick Gardener from ‘Built For Speed’

With the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing there has been a slew of TV documentaries about this epochal event. It’s unlikely that any of them are as mesmerising as the current cinema release doco simply entitled Apollo 11. Through remarkable archival footage which includes 35 mm film, CCTV and astonishingly clear and vivid 70mm footage recently discovered in NASA vaults, the film documents each phase of the Apollo 11 mission from the tense minutes leading up to lift-off through the journey to the moon, the iconic moon-walk and return to earth.

There’s no narration, the only voices are news presenters like Walter Cronkite, the crew members and mission control staff who include white vest-wearing Gene Krantz and astronaut Jim Lovell who are best known to the general public through the film Apollo 13 where they were portrayed by Ed Harris and Tom Hanks respectively.

Director Todd Douglas Miller has fashioned this remarkable footage into a driving narrative that, as much as a cinema audience can experience, makes us feel like we’re on the mission. The film underscores the mission’s intensity with atmospheric synth music that occasionally sounds like John Carpenter’s creepy score for The Thing.

While much of the film enhances our sense of wonder at this astonishing achievement the way in which it conveys the mission’s rigorous planning and meticulous execution makes it a little less surprising that it all happened.

Still, this is a striking piece of cinema and a wonderful document of one of the most amazing events in human history.

Nick’s rating: ****

Genre: Documentary.

Classification: G.

Director(s): Todd Douglas Miller.

Release date: 18th July 2019.

Running time: 93 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast.


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