Now available in a deliciously crisp and saturated IMAX print, ‘Apollo 11’ is NASA’s large scale documentary of the Apollo 11 space mission that put the first man on the moon. Perfectly matched to the scale of the IMAX canvas, the scale of the this momental undertaking is breathtaking. With rumbling engines shaking the floor and crackling exchanges with Houston’s mission control, ‘Apollo 11’ forgoes any talking heads, first person testimonies or sense of narration. It is just the footage as it was shot and it is now been edited in chronological order – and this is both its strength and potential weakness.
... will either draw you in or leave you distanced from those involved.
Divorced from any personal testimony, ‘Apollo 11’ can become a soporific journey into the unknown. Without the guiding hand of those involved, the gigantic visuals can quickly overwhelm. So, depending on what you are looking for, this magisterial odyssey will either draw you in or leave you distanced from those involved. For a dramatic take, check out Damien Chazelle’s much underrated ‘First Man‘. For a more less technically advanced, more narrative driven documentary into NASA’s lunars exploit it’s also worth seeking out Al Reinert’s Apollo 11 documentary ‘For All Mankind’. Bathed in the seminal ‘Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks’ by musicians Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, this, for me, is still the more enjoyable flight.
However, if you really want to confront the unknown, try listening to Eno’s sound track by itself. With its album cover as the sole reference and your eyes closed, it does the best job of all of them.