In The Shadow Of The Moon review

Astronaut Mike Collins, the third member of the Apollo 11 mission, sums it up best: “I have two moons in my head,” he grins, “whereas most people have one.” Collins might have remained in orbit while Neil Armstrong and Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin became the first of only 12 human beings to walk on the moon, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t got a story to tell in this fascinating documentary. Indeed, the rarely interviewed space traveller is surprisingly verbose, eyes twinkling merrily as he recounts his adventures – and his stories are matched only by Aldrin’s revelation that he was the first man to wee on the moon. Well, someone had to...

The puzzling thing about In The Shadow Of The Moon is that nobody’s made it before now. Director David Sington brings together nine crew members from every moon mission from Apollo 8 to Apollo 17, interviewing them in extreme close-up; the craters, ridges and valleys on their faces ironically mimicking the ones etched onto their otherworldly destination. They’re an entertaining bunch, even if it does takes a while to come to terms with the absence of Neil Armstrong (who was contacted but politely declined to appear). Strangely, this omission ends up working in the film’s favour: instead of the viewer witnessing an aged Armstrong rattling off his stories, he becomes a mythic, elevated creature worthy of his extraordinary fame.

Amid the candid memories (the astronauts’ unease at being unable to do their duty in Vietnam; Apollo 11’s Jim Lovell describing his crew’s first glimpse of the moon from orbit as “three schoolkids looking in a candy store window”) lies often mesmerising footage of space, much of it previously held, forgotten, in cold storage at NASA. Cleaned up, emotively scored by Philip Sheppard and presented in gleaming Hi-Def, it’s hard not to be moved by its beauty. In fact, we challenge anyone to leave the cinema after this and not gaze upwards to our luminous satellite. Only 12 people have ever walked there, you know…

A bunch of old guys talking about the old days - - but what old days. An absorbing doc from a filmmaker who knows a good story, and a handful of men who've lived the best story of all.

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