““When I made the film The Invention of Lying, they gave me a private jet for getting back and forth between New York and London. I thought, ‘I will never use it’ but I ended up using it every weekend. You turn up, right, and the airport is completely empty. I mean, there’s just someone at the desk and then the pilot, who says, ‘Are you ready to go?’ and you say, ‘Don’t you want to see my passport?’ and he goes, ‘Oh yeah, I suppose I’d better.’” ”
Recalling "One Giant Leap"
For those who remember where they were when Neil Armstrong and his crew took the ultimate business flight, it might be hard to believe NASA's Apollo program is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. In the Shadow of the Moon, which opens throughout the U.S. on September 7, marks that anniversary by taking a look back at one of the 20th Century's crowning achievements.
The film features no familiar Hollywood voice as narrator. Instead, the story is told by the astronauts, who give their recollections in an earthy, occasionally humorous manner. The producers managed to include an astronaut from each of the 10 manned Apollo missions, though Armstrong maintains his legendary reclusiveness, appearing in the film only through file footage and as the subject of anecdotes by his peers. Their interviews, shot in close-up, show the wrinkles and grey hair, but it's clear their memories have in no way been diminished by the passage of time.
Using the Apollo 11 "one giant leap for mankind" mission as its framework, the movie showcases the socio-political explanations for the Apollo program and details key events in its history, from the fire during training that claimed the lives of the first Apollo crew to the in-space explosion aboard Apollo 13 and its tension-filled return to Earth. While the film brings a degree of familiarity to the men who once graced evening newscasts, for space fans the incredibly re-mastered NASA footage (some of which has been in storage for decades) is itself worth the price of admission.