July 20 will mark the 50th Anniversary of human kind’s greatest achievement, Apollo 11’s expedition to the Moon. It is hard to fathom that fifty years ago, when computers and technology were just in its infancy stage that the United States of America managed to strap three brave men into a 110m tall rocket, carrying over 2 million litres of fuel that would propel them to the moon! Apollo 11 is a stunningly beautiful celebration of this monstrous achievement.
Directed by Todd Douglas Miller, Apollo 11 is a fantastically raw documentary of the famous moon landing. Comprised of beautifully restored originally footage and live audio recordings deep from the NASA archives, along with a heart pounding score, this documentary is unlike anything I have ever seen before. Shown without any commentary or narration, this film draws you in and at times had me on the edge of my seat.
Kicking off at around three hours prior to launch, and concluding as Commander Neil Armstrong, Lunar Module Pilot Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin and Command Module Pilot Michael Collins return from quarantine, Apollo 11 provides the audience with fantastic insight into the entire mission. Accompanying the stunning imagery is the famous T-Minus Countdown, Speed Telemetry and some simple yet effective graphics overlaid with mission radio, all of which assist the eager audience in understanding what is happening on screen.
Counting down to launch, the score becomes increasingly present, matching the beat to the seconds counting down as the footage reaches the climatic ignition sequence, then quickly falling silent as the boosters ignite providing a mind-numbing 7.5 Million pounds of thrust and accelerating to a speed of 10.8 km/s. Throughout each stage of the launch, I found myself in awe, shaking my head in disbelief at the speeds this massive rocket managed to achieve. Fun fact: The Saturn V Apollo 10 Rocket still holds the record for the highest speed attained by a crewed vehicle: 39,897 km/h or 11.08 km/s.
Even more exhilarating than the launch is the landing of the lunar module on the moon. Watching the remaining fuel and distance to surface reduce as time drastically counted down had my heart rate through the roof, although likely not as high as the recorded 150bpm of Armstrong as he was forced to take manual control and ensure the Eagle landed safely. During their almost 22 hours on the lunar surface, Armstrong and Aldrin took some incredible photos, each of which are displayed in all their glory across the big screen. Again, I was in awe.
Apollo 11 is an unapologetically inspiring display of human kind’s most ambitious achievement. Cleverly edited showing side-by-side shots of docking procedures and the use of all original visuals and audio makes this documentary unlike anything I have ever seen. One that I strongly recommend you go and see on the giant IMAX screen. I fear that smaller screens may not give this film the justice it deserves as the best documentary I have seen this year.
Apollo 11 launches into theatres today and with the 50th Anniversary this weekend, this documentary is the perfect anniversary gift for every soul on the planet.