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©NASA | 1969, Apollo 11 launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center
©NASA | 1969, Apollo 11 launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

The past few days, marked the 50th Anniversary of one of the most historic events in history; the first moon landing by Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins. Therefore, nothing is better to watch while musing on that event than the documentary, "Apollo 11" by CNN Films.

© Neon/CNN Films
© Neon/CNN Films

Different from your typical documentary because it features no narration; no interviews. There is a quite minimalist soundtrack playing under archived footage and audio from the event itself; most audio is the dialogue between mission control and the astronauts themselves. You hear Neil, Buzz, and the often forgotten Michael Collins, as they navigate their mission and occasionally crack a joke or two. Seeing the mission as never before through previously unreleased footage of every shocking stage.

©NASA | Michael Collins
©NASA | Michael Collins

 


"Apollo 11"  excels in demonstrating the human element and scope of the endeavor. From the opening shot of the rocket being placed on the launch pad, aside the largest land vehicle ever constructed; to the final minutes with destroyers awaiting the astronauts reentry.

©NASA
©NASA

We witness one of mankind's greatest technological achievements—hundreds of people diligently working at mission control on humongous early computers—thousands who drove to Cape Canaveral to observe the launch at a distance. Yet, through the celluloid restored,  everyone appears. . . normal.


 

© NASA | Judy Sullivan, Lead Engineer for the Apollo 11 Biomedical System
© NASA | Judy Sullivan, Lead Engineer for the Apollo 11 Biomedical System

Often documentaries or biopics elevate their subjects to legendary status. The artists create distance between the audience and the subject, so you never think of encountering Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, or Michael Collins, but in "Apollo 11", the participants resemble people you know, or run into at the grocery store; giving the whole piece a rare surreal intimacy.

©NASA | Charles M. Duke Jr.,  James A. Lovell Jr., & Fred W. Haise Jr.
©NASA | Charles M. Duke Jr., James A. Lovell Jr., & Fred W. Haise Jr.
©NASA | New York City welcomes the Apollo 11 crew in a ticker tape parade down Broadway and Park Avenue.
©NASA | New York City welcomes the Apollo 11 crew in a ticker tape parade down Broadway and Park Avenue.

 


Written by

Jonah Carlisle Phillips, editor and contributor at Sojourn Productions

Edited and Revised by Luis Gilberto Vazquez