Out of this world
By John DeSando, WCBE's It's Movie Time
From 1969 to 1972, America put 12 men on the moon in nine missions. Eight of the surviving crew members (notably absent is the reclusive Neil Armstrong) talk about their adventures in the documentary In the Shadow of the Moon with less of the engineering and more of the philosophy, a bit different from the dramatic renditions of The Right Stuff, Apollo 13, and HBO'S From Earth to the Moon.
The excellence of this version is the articulate, close up, talking heads of the astronauts, who are more handsome in their late 70's than they were in their late 20's, a testimony to space athletes who keep themselves fit forever. Besides their reflective narrations (for instance, Mike Collins is full of insights and glamorous details, Jim Lovell could do color commentary for any network), the photography, some of it never seen from NASA archives, is memorable. The earth as blue bubble is beautiful.
The documentary strays somewhat from the reality base by peppering the denouement with sappy, semi-religious contemplations from the narrators about "God's work" and the "fragility" motif. But all in all, this Ron Howard production is a first-rate retrospective about an era for which Americans should be proud?the contrast between the visionary Kennedy and the current blind Bush is painful. Maybe we should send him to the moon?
John DeSando teaches film at Franklin University and co-hosts WCBE 90.5's It's Movie Time, which can be heard streaming at www.wcbe.org Fridays at 3:01 pm and 8:01 pm and on demand anytime. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.RR.com