Thursday, October 18, 2007

London Film Fest Day 2 - IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON

IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON is a discreetly well-made documentary about the experience of the astronauts in the Apollo space programme that made me cry in awe. The film-makers interview many of the surviving astronauts and capture their singular characters, wit, and experiences of the missions to the moon. The movie also brings to light some truly awe-inspiring visual and audio footage of the missions and the moon landings. It is, throughout, a handsome production.

My problems with the doc. are its omissions. First, the glaring absence of context beyond the odd momentary nod toward Vietnam or the race riots. In particular, the doc suggests that the moon landing was an ephemeral moment of world unity. Surely not in the Soviet Union?! Second, the absence of Neil Armstrong, who is famously reclusive. This is fair enough, but the film-makers don't face up to it, except in a fleeting reference toward the end of the film. Even if Armstrong didn't want to participate, they could have asked his colleagues straight out about how the fame affected him and his decision to withdraw from public life.

Nonetheles, IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON is a must-see film. Much like LITTLE DIETER NEEDS TO FLY, it has a group of people and an adventure at its heart that is inspiring and fascinating. And in a world of documentary provocateurs, it's great to see a crew just quietly do their job.

IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON played Sundance and London 2007. It was released in the US in September and is released in the UK on November 2nd. It is released in Australia on February 7th 2008.

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