Coming to PBS tomorrow, Wednesday, July 17:
8 DAYS: TO THE MOON AND BACK
BBC broadcast (July 2019)
An immersive revisitation of the Apollo 11 mission.
This PBS presentation may very well be the last of a veritable subgenre of Apollo documentaries released this year, all timed, of course, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of mankind setting foot on the moon. In some ways, director Anthony Philipson’s project is similar to both Todd Douglas Miller’s epic APOLLO 11 and Tom Jennings’ APOLLO: MISSIONS TO THE MOON, in that it puts heavy focus on archival material. Unlike both of those takes on the Apollo mission, however, this one chooses to incorporate extensive dramatized re-enactments to supplement extant material. In practice, this amounts to actors portraying Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, and Mike Collins lip-synching actual audio recordings of conversations between them and Mission Control. It’s frankly an odd stylistic choice, and one which viewers may find to be distracting more often than not. Leaving that aside, Philipson is more successful at weaving together the audio with actual mission footage, as well as Walter Cronkite’s useful CBS News coverage of those historic eight days in space. As the former plays out, particularly, of course, the lunar landing and return to Earth, the film does achieve its intended immersive impact, resulting in an at times absorbing watch that would seem to approximate the experience of watching the events on those days back in 1969.