APOLLO 11, from Neon and CNN Films, is an astonishingly impactful doc, visually and aurally, about the unprecedented, seemingly miraculous and never replicated 1969 NASA moon journey that brought astronauts to the moon and back.
The doc, by director/editor Todd Douglas Miller, features Astronaut Commander Neil Armstrong and Space Capsule Pilot Buzz Aldrin (both moonwalkers) and co-star NASA Command Module Pilot Michael Collins in an outer space Uber-like role as their moon-orbiting driver doing drop-off and pick-up. The Apollo 11 footage is wholly archival, mostly crafted from a newly discovered trove of 65mm footage and more than 11,000 hours of uncatalogued audio recordings. This cinematic “happening” of the historic first (and only) lunar steps and “one giant leap for mankind” moon event may also marks an historic and “giant leap” in the evolution of the doc form. The digitized, re-scanned, re-mastered footage (achieving remarkable clarity from an 8K transfer) and remastered audio (a sound mix and design triumph) land viewers with the Astronauts and the men manning the massive Florida and Houston mission control centers and into the crowd of millions (including celebrities) who watched history unfold live from Florida's Kennedy launch site.
Director/editor Todd Douglas Miller is already kicking up fresh Awards dust in the doc, sound, editing, directing categories for a new awards season really not so many moons away.
An unexpectedly timely film spectacle because of the stirring President John F. Kennedy footage of his 1962 pledge to Americans to have a man on the moon by the end of the decade; a startling and timely reminder of Presidential greatness, especially as contrast to the unprecedented mess today.
Delivers with WOW! (what outstanding work!) cinematic and emotional impact the enormity and importance of the moonwalk triumph, that was, uh, partially eclipsed by that same summer’s headline-stealing Woodstock Fest and Senator Ted Kennedy/Chappaquiddick tragedy/scandal.
In addition to the John F. Kennedy footage, legendary newsman Walter Cronkite’s brief narrations that book-end the doc add to the dignity and heft of the moon journey and the doc itself.
Going budget class on this cinematic journey to traditional theater screens will thrill but traveling First Class via the optimized IMAX format amplifies the WOW! of the film and provides further proof that the ultimate big screen entertainment experience is the right film presented the optimum way. And with bang for the buck.