‘8 Days to Moon and Back’ review: a dramatic retelling of man’s first mission to the Moon

This documentary gives a sense of how much the television coverage fed the myth-making.

Once you have soaked in the gob-smacking splendour of the iconic images from Apollo 11’s Moon mission, you can marvel at the fact that a grand total of 122 photographs were taken on a Hasselblad by the astronauts of their historic journey to the Moon.

If the Moon mission had been in our Insta-obsessed age, the picture of sunrise — a ray of gold appearing over the horizon – would have broken the internet for sure. You can almost hear the frenzied clicking of smartphones, the sharing, the likes and the comments. However, all you can hear in BBC’s 8 Days to Moon and Back is spectacular silence. In Space, no one can hear you take selfies.

On July 16, 1969, Apollo 11 was launched from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A. 8 Days to Moon and Back combines original archive and fresh footage with CGI to recreate the eight days, three hours, 18 minutes, 35 seconds of the epic journey.

8 Days to the Moon and Back

  • Director: Anthony Philipson
  • Starring: Patrick Kennedy, Jack Tarlton, Rufus Wright
  • Run time: 89 minutes

Hearing all those phrases that have become part of our lexicon from “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” to “The eagle has landed” is goosebump inducing. The documentary uses audio from the cockpit recorded by the astronauts where they seem to get along fairly well, very much like the “amiable strangers” described by Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins.

Upon landing on the moon, Aldrin’s request “to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his or her own way,” is moving.

8 days to the Moon and Back also gives a sense of how much the television coverage fed the myth-making. Veteran broadcast journalist Walter Cronkite waxes lyrical on the mission speaking of the “magnificent desolation” of the moonscape while CBS commentator Eric Sevareid’s cautionary “The divine spark in man will consume him in flames” serves as a counter point.

The documentary with Patrick Kennedy (Collins) Jack Tarlton (Aldrin) Rufus Wright (Armstrong) is a thrilling way to see a slice of history come alive. Never mind the whispers by conspiracy theorists that a certain Stanley Kubrick had something to do with the filming.

8 Days to Moon and Back airs on July 20, 2019 at 8 pm on Sony BBC Earth.

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