Thursday, January 8, 2009


I'm not one to usually just talk about the movies I'm watching in this mammoth quest. Hell, I've got so much shit spewing around in this pea-sized brain of mine that I need some sort of outlet to let it loose on a semi-attentive audience. But today my usual cavalcade of useless information about myself has been halted, strangely enough, by a documentary about astronauts:

"...They brought back thousands of feet of amazing film, perhaps the most extraordinary footage ever shot by human beings."

- Al Reinert

I'm sitting in a coffee shop, after having just finished the last forty minutes of For All Mankind (54) just beaming like a school child. I found myself, in these final spectacular moments of this film, actually reaching across to my actually busy roommate and drawing his attention to some part of the screen, as I couldn't bear to experience the majesty of this film on my own. Invariably, I'd be so excited for what came next I'd zone out in the middle of sharing, turn the screen back to me, simply unable to miss another second.

For All Mankind (54) might be my favorite Criterion Film I've watched so far. For those of you who've no interest in space, or the Apollo missions, or at least documentation of an era long gone, I implore you: see this movie. Documentarian Al Reinert has culled together nearly every piece of film ever shot of these amazing events and with the help of to-this-point unknown editor Susan Korda, created an all-encompassing look at the sheer awesomness of these epic moments i our countries history. I said this yesterday, but the imagery presented here is not just your standard Neil Armstrong posing with the flag, or the Earth from outer space - sure, those are present, but these are views of the moon and the men who've walked it that I'm positive you've never seen before. Reinert's images capture a sense of enjoyment and childish awe that in hindsight completely jives with what these men were actually accomplishing. There's several moments - Buzz Aldrin smearing ham on a floating sandwich, a reel of "moon bloopers", and many of the hilarious sound clips - that make you realize that this event was as mind-blowing and awe-inspiring to these hardened pilots as it was to the world that looked on.

What really makes this film for me though is the way that Reinert splices in audio from the extensive interviews he's done with these famed astronauts. It isn't the talking head sort of hodge-podge you're used to in documentaries, instead Reinert, smartly, chooses to layer the memories, insights and observations of these men over these impressive clips. The effect is one of actually existing for a moment within these moon explorer's memories, actually being a part of the emotions and experience they must have been feeling. It absolutely sucked the breath out of me.

Do your self a favor, find this film and watch it. If you're disappointed ... well, you should ask your mom and dad if they dropped you as a child.

Tomorrow: The Unbearable Lightness of Being (55)

1 comment:

Paolo said...

There's no way this movie tops our not going to state History Day video "The Apollo Space Missions and the technology derived from it"