The first experience I had at a West End cinema was at the Apollo multiplex. It was lavishly decorated like a celebrity's hideaway venue. The cinema serves wines to patrons in an ice bucket and is served in the auditorium direct to you like a first class service. Just be sure to pop the cork first before the film starts!
Ron Howard's In the Shadow of the Moon' tells a story in a documentary format with no CGI model replications what so ever. And remarkably it pulls it off from the start. Only last night I was standing in my back garden. As I looked up I noticed the glare of a big bright white sphere shining on my very person. A ware wolf would have a night to remember.
It's not just about the history of the Apollo programme. It takes a look at the culture of the changing society in the world at the time. Specifically 1968 which history will tells that was never a good one. The Vietnam war had escalated to it's bloodiest death toll, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were assassinated, racial disturbances and civil rights movements fought to purge their countries of segregational poison. However in the midst the media provided a sense of escapism as Bob Beamon breaks the long jump record at the Mexico Olympics, Indian cricketer Gary Sobers scored six sixes off one over and the Warsaw invasion ended. However the hero of the year was NASA. I had already learnt this from the TV show 'From the Earth to the Moon' which was also produced by Howard. Apollo 8 ended 1968 on a high note when they went to lunar orbit. They're reading of the Bible's Genesis tamed the bloodshed and with their magnificent achievement returned to Earth, a healed planet.
The story of Apollo 11 is still fresh in many people's minds as the greatest undertaking of the 20th century. As with most documentaries they convey a beautiful slow motion Saturn 5 take off and In the Shadow of the Moon doesn't fail to resist a better shot. Even when the rocket motors fired I could feel the noise of the take off drumming against my head.
The recollections of the astronauts left me spellbound. They preferred the long journey to the Moon more than sitting on top a massive firework. Apollo 16's Charlie Duke recalled the sight of the Earth from his spacecraft like holding the globe in the palm of his hands. Apollo 17's Gene Cernan had kept onto messages from his family that he proudly displayed on screen. With space exploration aside the Apollo astronauts also have share their thoughts on the ways of life on Earth. Mike Collins of Apollo 11 wonders why people on Earth consider life here to be a bad place. Well as their experiences go to prove the Earth is a garden of Eden that we must protect as it's still humanity's cradle.
This was the first big screen documentary that I've seen and I'll be glad to go out and find another one. This is the best means of storytelling for everyone to recollect how we overcame past struggles in our ambitions to establish tranquillity.