The new Apollo 11 documentary boasts that it is a “cinematic event fifty years in the making.” Which it is. It’s less a documentary and more a compilation of restored 16mm film and rarely-if-ever heard audio records from the first lunar landing mission, and it’s absolutely incredible. (Heads up: this blog contains spoilers, but then again, most of us know what happened on Apollo 11, right? Right.)
The trailer, just in case you haven’t seen it kicking around yet.
The most impressive thing about this documentary is that it’s almost entirely original material — there’s no narrator and no interviews providing context but there’s still a very clear narrative. The only additional explanatory pieces are simple, stick spacecraft-type animations mimicking the displays in mission control that illustrate the event that’s about to happen. For example, while the crew and flight controllers are talking about TLI (an unfamiliar acronym for most people) the doc shows a simple animation of the third stage’s flashing red engine “burning” to give the spacecraft enough velocity to leave Earth orbit. The major mission events are all done in this style. It’s so simple but super effective.
The movie gets away without narration because ...