Combustible Celluloid
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With: Buzz Aldrin, Alan Bean, Gene Cernan, Mike Collins, Charlie Duke, Jim Lovell, Edgar Mitchell, Harrison Schmitt, Dave Scott, John Young
Written by: n/a
Directed by: David Sington
MPAA Rating: PG for mild language, brief violent images and incidental smoking
Running Time: 100
Date: 01/19/2007

In the Shadow of the Moon (2007)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Lunar or Later

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

David Sington's simple but powerful documentary focuses on the Apollo program and the various moon landings attempted between 1968 and 1972. It interviews a handful of legendary astronauts, Buzz Aldrin, Alan Bean, Gene Cernan, Mike Collins (whose job was to remain aboard Apollo 11 while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked the surface), Charlie Duke, Jim Lovell (famously portrayed by Tom Hanks in Ron Howard's Apollo 13), Edgar Mitchell, Harrison Schmitt, Dave Scott and John Young. Their stories range from vividly descriptive to funny to spiritually uplifting. But the real selling point is an astonishing wealth of footage from the NASA warehouses; it's jaw-dropping if you imagine the extreme measures taken to retrieve the cameras and preserve the film. The 100-minute film doesn't have time to go into every great story. It talks a great deal about the landing of Apollo 11, but not its departure, and it assumes that most people know the Apollo 13 story. Lurking under the film's surface is the realization that no one has walked on the moon since 1972, and the only reason anyone ever did is because of a competition with the Russians. That's a sad commentary on our lust for victory over heroism and excellence.

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