APOLLO 11

Cert U 93mins Stars 5

This mesmerising documentary celebrating the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s historic 1969 moon landing is out of this world in every sense.

The enormity of what these brave pioneers achieved will not be lost on the small screen but the majestic scale of their surroundings will be, and this is hugely deserving of being seen in IMAX if possible.

Director and editor Todd Douglas Miller has painstakingly assembled a terrific new account of humankind’s greatest adventure from thousands of hours of recently discovered unreleased recordings.

It’s a testament to Miller’s patience and powers of storytelling, as well as the imagination and skill of unknown camera operators, this monumental episode in human history has narrative clarity and crystal clear cinematography.

There’s seemingly nowhere these camera weren’t placed, capturing the crew in their space capsule, the legions of white male technicians in the sprawling NASA base, and the gawping spectators who gathered in their thousands to watch the launch.

The technology seems terrifyingly primitive, the scale of the operation is dizzying, the size of the rockets are jaw-dropping, and the achievement is awe-inspiring.

Blast off, the moon landing and re-entry toEarth’s atmosphere are all terrifying in their own ways, with faulty nitrogen pipes and a minuscule margin for error adding to the nail-shredding drama.

Elegant retro-style graphics explain simply and clearly the route and various docking procedures, and time-saving split screens are used in a playful and a knowing nod to the style of the time.

A brief biography of each of the three man crew flashes past and their dry humour elicits  a very telling nervous laughter from the control room.

Television and radio commentators add a flavour of the times and as most of this is in colour it’s almost worth watching for the vintage fashions of clothes and cars.

It finishes with a reminder the 1960’s were a time when a US President could harness the optimism, confidence, wealth and power of his nation to reach out and achieve something far greater and of lasting significance than any one person, including himself.

And so makes this the most scathingly political film of the year.

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