The image is revealing, the image is powerful. However, we are now living in a moment where the image is more questioned than ever. I am not talking about things that are seen to be unbelievable, but it ranges from deepfakes trying to demonstrate very strongly that they are indistinguishable from reality (although really they are always distinguished) to the very reaction of people who choose not to see what is in front of you.
These are not exactly peak moments for the image or for science, with more toxic voices trying to tear them down, believing that they are right. For this reason, perhaps, it is more necessary to vindicate both in all their strength. And precisely a documentary arrives on Netflix that, in addition to being one of the most incredible works that have come out of this art in recent years, values science through image. Is about ‘apollo 11‘.
A big step for the documentary
With the support of the (huge) visual and sound material published by NASA in the National Archives, the director Todd Douglas Miller tries to show us the whole process that led to the mission of Apollo 11, the manned ship that finally put man on the surface of the Moon. A truly unique glimpse into a story that we know quite well and very few question today (yes, few, even if they make a lot of digital noise).
Miller dives through tens of thousands of hours of NASA-recorded content and restores it as beautifully and spectacularly as possible. The 65mm footage looks incredible given the careful process that, together with the also remarkable technical ‘they will not grow old‘ by Peter Jackson, show the Incredible achievements in treatise material and remastering of old material. Images from the sixties bordering on 8K quality.
But it’s not just the technical feat of restoration that makes ‘Apollo 11’ stand out, although it certainly helps to make amazing film work to watch. Another element that contributes to making this documentary somewhat hectic is Miller’s good use of images. In an endless amount of material, he finds the elements to tell a story that is easy to follow and exciting.
‘Apollo 11’: the epic of the process
It does so without clear protagonists, without anything that has characterized the space adventures that we have seen in fiction, even biographical ones. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin have their presence throughout the 90 minutes of final footage, but Miller shows them as one more part of a gear full of technicians doing their job. The true epic of ‘Apollo 11’ lies in its portrayal of a painstaking process that led to success, but really it was something miraculous.
On-the-ground and pre-launch content are fresh elements that help feel like new a story that we already know. The assembly is elegant and intelligent, especially when it must overcome the limitations of not having the best quality material from the moment of the moon landing. The wonderful music of Matt Morton It finishes rounding off a vibrant experience even for those who are less used to the documentary format. A truly admirable piece.