February 28, 2019

SCREEN | Astonishing 'Apollo 11' Documents the Moon Landing

"The Eagle has landed!"
Todd Douglas Miller | CNN Films | Apollo 11

Documentarian Todd Douglas Miller has impressively assembled together previously unseen but near-pristine 70mm large-format archival film footage from the famed NASA space mission for his striking new CNN Films documentary. Apollo 11 features some truly crisp, stunning source material documenting the events surrounding the landmark journey to the moon superbly.

Miller's film is essentially a basic, non-narrative assembly cut of this new historical footage edited together to show background imagery of the men who prepared the famed space mission—including astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin—as seen in First Man. How the 1969 lunar landing is framed takes a steady approach in following the preparations, training, launch, take off, travel, orbit, and landing.

There's a stark, celestial quality to the 93-minute documentary as it's constructed to make space travel look so cinematic using 11,000 hours of uncatalogued NASA audio recordings without the need for any additional narration, interviews, talking heads, or other usual storytelling tricks to express the full weight of events.

Todd Douglas Miller | CNN Films | Apollo 11

Miller lets the mission unfold through the raw archival material as it somehow elegantly captures both the hard work of Mission Control on the ground as well as the undeniable magical quality of space from the astronauts' perspective.

The sheer spectacular imagery of Apollo 11 alone is almost enough itself to propel the smoothly edited archival documentary together. The quality of the footage is so compelling on its own that little is needed in terms of historical context or conventional storytelling fifty years on from the moon landing itself.

Apollo 11 opens exclusively in IMAX theatres including Cineplex Cinemas Langley before expanding wider starting March 8th.

More | AV Club / Indiewire / THR / Vox

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