The Film: For All Mankind, 1989
The Principals: Al Reinert (Director), Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins
The Premise: America decides it’s time to stomp around on the moon. We do. We win.
“Puttin’ dudes on the moon’s fun and all… but I could be with my ladyboy.”
Is it Good: It’s great. When exploring a real event, one of the great strengths of
cinema (documentary or narrative) is the ability to return us to an
emotional time and place- unless of course, we weren’t there when the
event in question happened, in which case it can create within us an emotional
response that approximates what we would have felt. For All Mankind
accomplishes this by stripping away manufactured drama and letting the reality speak for itself: three
dudes in a fucking massive steel rocket blasted over 200,000 miles to a
giant dead rock in the sky. And they came back.
begins with the gentlemen strapping into their suits shortly before
liftoff, and it ends as their return craft safely lands in the ocean-
both segments playing under Kennedy’s announcement speech. The bookends
surround a phase-by-phase look at exactly how the mission went. The
details of the mission have been exhaustively covered in much longer
documentaries, but the simplicity of this film manages to return the
awe to the event in a way a more talky or detail-oriented documentary couldn’t. You’re simply shown what those involved saw. With the
excitement for space that builds when watching, you can’t help but be
disappointed at how grim of an outlook there is for the near future of
manned space exploration.
It’s hard to not be
constantly struck by how dated all of the technology appears, yet they
traveled nearly half-a-million miles inside of it. It’s brings a strange level of humility to a 2010 viewer. You sometimes forget what good ole fashioned nuts-and-bolts science and technology managed to accomplish before Jonathan Ive made everything pretty.
Is it Worth a Look: Yes. You’ll be shocked at how much footage there is that you’ve never
seen. They filmed everything.
“Trained for years. Traveled over 200,000 miles. Fell the fuck down.”
Random Anecdotes: It’s endearing how these guys never get tired of playing with the
lack of gravity. Even in the middle of a crisis involving a potentially
disastrous equipment change, one of the ‘nauts still takes a moment to
playfully flick around a floating flashlight. There is also a montage of the Astronauts –pride of America and focus of the eyes of the world– repeatedly busting ass.
Cinematic Soulmates: In The Shadow Of The Moon, Apollo 13, 2001, Moon
State of Play
3000 Miles to Graceland
The Last Supper
Things to do in Denver when You’re Dead
World’s Greatest Dad
Friday the 13th, Part 3