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Review of "Apollo 11": The lunar mission of 1969 still has the power to thrill



The documentary "Apollo 11", directed and edited by Todd Douglas Miller, is quite impressive. Which is a surprise. In the course of the world events of the 20th century, Apollo 11, NASA's 1969 mission that placed two men on the moon, has been extensively documented. It has also been dissected in a fictitious way, most recently by Damien Chazelle, whose film "First Man" of 2018 is a portrait of Neil Armstrong, commander of the mission and, of course, the first man to walk on the moon. . In addition to chronicling this triumph, this film examines Armstrong's emotional reticence.

Miller's documentary indirectly shows why such quality is appreciated by astronauts. Starting with images of a tracked carrier pulling the Saturn V rocket towards the Cape Canaveral launch pad, and Walter Cronkite's new oratory providing the only open narrative montage that the film will use, "Apollo 11" impartially outlines how much is needed for this mission to be accomplished. And like many things that could go wrong, the film also implies that it only gives you the tip of the iceberg in this regard.

The film consists mainly of newly discovered archive images, some of which have never been seen before. But Miller does not rely entirely on him. It uses simple but effective white-on-black graphics, graphical animations and, occasionally, split-screen footage to highlight particularly painful maneuvers, to capture the complexities of the actions the team has to take. Apollo 11 had to execute with such precision. The impact is almost mind-boggling. On the way back, the crew burst out a little more, listening to a weightless cassette player that emits a folk-country melody. "Mother Country" by John Stewart.

Records from Houston Mission Control retrace key moments, including Armstrong's heart rates, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, at crucial moments in the eight-day mission. According to the surgeon's report, at launch, Armstrong's heart rate is up to 110 beats per minute. Collins is 99, while Aldrin, cool as a cucumber, has a rate of 88.

"First Man" reminded viewers of the complex physical and emotional challenges inherent in astronaut work. And "Apollo 11" also shows that almost everyone, except an aerospace engineer and a large support team, can get ready to do the calculations for this company.

However, "Apollo 11" is not entirely devoid of romanticism. Although we know how the mission will take place, the film generates and maintains a suspense. And it revives a mad feeling of wonder, among other things, from what one can practically do with trigonometry.


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