In the Shadow of the Moon (2007)

America's race to reach the moon is an inspiring one; it is also a pretty familiar story. These two elements are present in In the Shadow of the Moon, a documentary about the Apollo preparation for, and journeys to, the moon.

In the Shadow of the Moon is composed of two elements: footage from the times and events around the moon missions, and interviews with the surviving members of the NASA program. Director David Sington lets the material speak for itself, not asking questions or injecting himself into the material. He may be a little too much in awe of the actual missions, as the world around the mission -- the social upheaval of the 1960s, the rivalry with the Russians to reach the moon -- is treated very briefly, as if he's rushing back to the details of NASA.

The people interviewed range from famous astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong to the ground crew and engineers who worked tirelessly to make sure the astronauts reached the moon safely -- and made it back alive. They are a varied bunch, discussing their work and the program with gravity, interest, and often humor, and they all convey a sense of certainty in the goal of the space program.

In the Shadow of the Moon is a little long -- a line near the end suggests the documentary was ending, yet it went on for 20 more minutes -- and much of the story is familiar, whether to the folks who lived during the Apollo missions or fans of the film Apollo 13. It also offers a detailed look at the space program from the inside.

Overall Grade: B

Reviewed by James Lynch

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