Every once in a while a really great documentary comes along. In the Shadow of the Moon is one of them. This 2007 British film, which like most documentaries (unfortunately), had a very limited theater engagement, is now widely available for rental or purchase.
It is the remarkable story of the Apollo missions to the Moon, told eloquently by many of the astronauts who journeyed there: Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins (Apollo 11), Alan Bean (Apollo 12), Jim Lovell (Apollo 8 & 13), Edgar Mitchell (Apollo 14), David Scott (Apollo 9 & 15), John Young (Apollo 10 & 16), Charles Duke (Apollo 16), Eugene Cernan (Apollo 10 & 17), and Harrison Schmitt (Apollo 17). You certainly get the impression that not only are these guys personable and intelligent, but that they have aged well and still have much insight and wisdom to offer us about the past, present, and future.
The historical importance of this documentary cannot be overstated. There is nothing, and I mean nothing, like hearing about the first (and still only) human missions to the Moon firsthand from the astronauts who journeyed there. And, sadly, these pioneering astronauts are not going to be with us much longer. Most have already left us. In the fourteen years since this documentary was released, Edgar Mitchell, the last surviving member of the Apollo 14 crew, passed away in 2016, Gene Cernan, the last man to walk on the Moon, passed away in 2017, John Young, the longest-serving astronaut in NASA history, and Alan Bean, the last surviving member of the Apollo 12 crew, left us in 2018, and Michael Collins passed away in 2021. The five surviving Apollo astronauts who shared their stories with us in this film are all octogenarians and nonagenarians: Jim Lovell is 93, Buzz Aldrin is 91, David Scott is 88, Charles Duke is 85, and Harrison Schmitt is 85.
This is a story that needed to be told by those who can tell it best. There is no narrator, nor is there any need for one. Kudos to directors David Sington & Christopher Riley, producers Duncan Copp, Christopher Riley, Sarah Kinsella, John Battsek, & Julie Goldman, and composer Philip Sheppard for making this a film of lasting cultural significance, a film that will be admired and appreciated a hundred-plus years from now.
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Updated January 7, 2018
Updated May 27, 2018