Picks and Pans Review: For All Mankind
National Geographic Explorer presents this Academy Award—nominated 1989 documentary, which wonderfully weaves together NASA footage from nine U.S. Apollo missions from 1968 to '72, when we turned all our resources toward putting men on the moon and succeeded six times.
Like Bud Greenspan's Olympic panegyrics, this film from director Al Reinert uses great camera work (laboriously assembled from 6 million feet of NASA footage in the vaults of the Johnson Space Center) and frequent slow motion to create a stirring and epic tribute. The film is scored by Brian Eno and employs commentary from 13 of the 24 astronauts who made this historic round-trip—although none of them is identified as he speaks.
Was the Apollo program worth the $42 billion price tag? Considering that it resulted in no crucial scientific breakthroughs and that we have subsequently backed off manned exploration of space, the answer is probably no. But the program did result in this priceless film, which is also available on video.