Monday, October 15, 2007

A Giant Leap

We saw "In the Shadow of the Moon" last night. It's a very personal documentary of the Apollo Moon program as seen by the guys who actually did the flying. Most of the interviews are close up shots that reveal the eyes and the lines of the face of each one of the men who can actually say that they either walked on or at least circled the moon.

Here is a part of a review from the NYTs.

"When the Apollo 11 astronauts toured the world after their July 1969 moon landing, recalls Mike Collins, the pilot of the mission’s command module, he heard the phrase “We did it” everywhere they went. The “we,” he remembers in David Sington’s documentary “In the Shadow of the Moon,” didn’t refer to Americans, or to any nationality, but to the human race. Millions around the world who had watched on television as men walked on the moon for the first time felt that they had participated in a great adventure that ennobled the species."

Between 1968 and 1972, nine American spacecraft voyaged to the Moon, and 12 men walked upon its surface. IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON brings together for the first, and possibly the last, time surviving crew members from every single Apollo mission that flew to the Moon along with visually stunning archival material re-mastered from the original NASA film footage.

The result is an intimate epic that vividly communicates the daring, the danger, the pride, and the promise of this extraordinary era in history when the whole world literally looked up at America.

What makes the movie work though is that the director "made the very shrewd decision to avoid narration and have the only voices come from archival footage and thoughtful and extensive interviews with 10 of the 15 surviving moon voyage astronauts.

Now mostly in their 70s, vigorous enough to be commanding presences yet old enough to be candid, these men, alternately wry, acerbic, perceptive and funny, form as remarkable a group of individuals as anyone is likely to meet.

There is a great spirit to them, and to have each of them talk to us as they'd talk to old friends is a rare opportunity. (clip)

What is perhaps most unexpected about "In The Shadow of the Moon" is that in its depiction of America we can believe in, it lifts the spirits in a way that has not been felt in years. "We did something the whole world appreciated, participated in," Collins remembers.

"Everyone felt, 'We, the human race, did it. "

As we walked out of this excellent movie, we both came to the same conclusion. This country had everything going for it at that moment, and we used that moment to build an empire instead of a new world.

When Neal Armstrong took his first step onto a new world, his words were perfect.

It was "a giant leap for mankind."

Now, we have the rare opportunity to win the world over again as we embark upon an even greater adventure. And like the race to the moon, our race towards a post carbon future will be just as challenging and even more impressive in its effects on the globe and on global consciousness itself.
Perhaps most importantly, this movie shows what wondrous things we can do when we make our minds up to do it.

For we truly are on the brink of another Giant Leap.

And this time, it will be more than dozen or so men who go,

and it really will be

"We" who do it.

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