(No longer in theaters)
Sep 21, 2007
How lucky people were in the sixties to have something to take their minds off a corrupt administration and an unjust war—to remind us what humans could aspire to and achieve if they just wanted badly enough to humiliate the Commies. In the Shadow of the Moon, directed by David Sington (and “presented” by Apollo enthusiast Ron Howard), recounts the space race with the Soviets that led to one small step for a man and one giant leap for mankind—and to many other small steps on the lunar surface before nasa closed the books on the moon. The movie has a lot of talking heads—just about everyone except Neil Armstrong, apparently unwilling to take this particular step. But they’re great heads, still lean, still touched by wonder, and far enough past youthful vanity that Buzz Aldrin can boast of being the second man to walk on the moon but the first to pee on it. In between, we see the liftoffs, the orbits, the “Earth rises” that still put a lump in your throat, and, maybe best of all, the view from just above the cratered landscape as Armstrong and Aldrin search for a boulderless place to plop down. The film goes chronologically—not year by year but stage by stage in the journey, so you get multiple points of view (and camera angles) on everything from the first sight of the home world to bouncing along the white, fine-grained surface with only one-sixth the gravity of Earth’s. I came out giddy, feeling lighter—by about five-sixths—than I did when I went in.