The good thing about knowing a film critic is you get inside tips on the good movies. So having seen Caution Spoilers’ review of Apollo 11 when it was at Sundance London, I decided to go see it when it hit the Tyneside.
It’s a fascinating documentary, using archive footage of the launch, landing and recovery, most of which I had never seen before, and impressively for a story we all know, manages to cram in quite a lot of tension. My one caveat is that, by focusing again on what the camera focused on at the time, it reinforces the erasure of the people the space programme didn’t acknowledge at the time – no ‘hidden figures’ brought to life here, it’s all white guys with military haircuts. (I’m not saying of course that wasn’t most of the people involved – and I don’t know enough to know who else was involved in this particular mission – it’s just a shame that now we’ve had a glimpse at the people behind the scenes, they’ve vanished again here).
But that quibble aside, it’s a vivid and gripping film that also reinforces a message of peace, solidarity and science for the good of mankind that we could do with a bit more of today…
You can read a Good Housekeeping article about some of the women involved in the moon landing here (one of whom, Jo-Ann Morgan, is glimpsed in the film), and of course the book and film Hidden Figures are worth checking out to see the contribution African-American women made to the programme. You can also read Mary Jackson, Dorothy Vaughan and Katherine Johnson’s official NASA bios here.