[Sundance 2019] Apollo 11 Review: A Thrilling and Pure Look at the Wonder of Space Travel

Apollo 11
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Apollo 11 is a documentary in the truest form in that there is no narrator, just mission control, and a technological marvel that has to be seen to be believed.

Director: Todd Douglas Miller
Summary: NASA’s vaults open for the first time to spill this exquisite, never-before seen audio and 70 mm film footage of the Apollo 11 mission. The meandering cameras in Cape Canaveral capture a dreamy-eyed portrait of America as it stepped into the future, and from inside the Apollo 11 spacecraft, the amazingly jocular conversation of the astronauts punctuates each stage of the mission with lightness and charm. Yet the crowds watching the rocket are oblivious to the enormous pressure mission control is under to succeed.

The wonder of space travel is something that makes a lot of people feel like kids again. It takes something that feels so impossible and makes it appear in front of our eyes. The footage captured from the Apollo 11 mission changed the world. No one had ever seen anything like it. And now, in the age of astronauts on the space station tweeting pictures, we take for granted how amazing all of it is. Apollo 11 is here to remind everyone that space is awesome.

Apollo 11 is a documentary in the truest form: there is no voice dictating the mission and telling us how it’s going. Instead, we have mission control working as our narrator and doing a better job than some narrators hired for other documentaries. We know exactly what is happening when it happens because they have to keep track of all those things. It makes the film that much more compelling as we hear Armstrong, Collins, and Aldrin communicating with people millions of miles away.

A still of Buzz Aldrin from APOLLO 11 by Todd Miller, Courtesy of Sundance Institute.
A still of Buzz Aldrin from APOLLO 11 by Todd Miller, Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

This is a story everyone knows. we know these guys land on the moon and make it back safely, yet there is an air of tension as you watch the beautiful footage go by. It says a lot about how much the mission draws you in that it does what so many movies based on true stories fail to do; it makes you forget that you know how all of this ends.

The new footage that until recently has been unseen is amazing. It’s crisp and clear and it gives one a true sense of how incredible it is that they ever managed to pull this off. Some of it is a little grainy and sometimes the transmissions can be a little hard to understand — this is a movie that will be better with subtitles — but you’re always amazed as you watch the mission unfolding on the big screen.

Apollo 11 is a must-see for anyone who considers themselves a fan of the space program. The new footage makes you feel like you’re watching this mission for the first time all over again as you marvel at the achievement humanity made all of those years ago.

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About Kaitlyn Booth

Kaitlyn is the Editor-in-Chief at Bleeding Cool. She loves movies, television, comics, and political satire. She's a member of the UFCA and the GALECA. Feminist. Writer. Nerd. Follow her on twitter @katiesmovies and @safaiagem on instagram. She's also a co-host at The Nerd Dome Podcast. Listen to it at http://www.nerddomepodcast.com

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