In the Shadow of the Moon (2007)
During his State of the Union address in 1961 President John F. Kennedy challenged the nation, "before this decade is out, to land a man on the Moon and return him safely to the Earth." Despite all the turbulence of the 1960s (Vietnam, three assassinations, the civil rights movement, etc.), on July 20, 1969 Neil Armstrong stepped off his lunar module ladder and onto the moon—240,000 miles away—with the unforgettable words, "that's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." This remarkable documentary covers much but not all of the Apollo program, which ran from 1961 to 1975 and in six missions landed twelve people on the moon (the last in 1972 with Apollo 17). It focuses especially on the first lunar landing with Apollo 11, and the catastrophe of Apollo 1 and near-catastrophe of Apollo 13. In addition to the sheer magnitude of the scientific and technical feat, the film captures the deeply human drama, the truly global celebration, and even the spiritual impact that the lunar landings had on the astronauts. The film draws heavily upon NASA archival film footage, much of which has never been seen before, and reflections by all of the surviving astronauts, save the reclusive Neil Armstrong. This might be the best documentary film of 2007.