As the world prepares to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first manned lunar landing – one of our greatest achievements ever – Emmy and Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Tom Jennings (“Challenger Disaster: Lost Tapes,” “Diana: In Her Own Words”) uses his signature style of first-person storytelling to create an immersive account that spans the full sweep of NASA’s Apollo Space Program, including all 12 crewed missions. In APOLLO: Missions to the Moon, newly transferred film and never-before-heard audio recordings recount the United States’ remarkable journey to land on the Moon before 1970. The missions are experienced not from modern-day retrospective but through TV coverage, radio broadcasts, home movies, NASA film and never-before-heard Mission Control audio. Primary source media offers a raw and genuine look at how the Apollo missions were presented to the public and what this historic program means to us today and for our future. APOLLO: Missions to the Moon is not just a film; it’s an experience.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first manned lunar landing, National Geographic presents APOLLO: Missions to the Moon. This new documentary by Emmy and Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Tom Jennings uses first-person storytelling to create an immersive account that spans the full sweep of NASA’s Apollo Space Program, including all 12 crewed missions. From before the Apollo 11 landing through the end of the program, this look gives us a full glimpse of the project’s triumphs and tragedies. The documentary uses newly transferred film and never-before-heard audio recordings to retell a story that might be familiar to most of us, but continues to be inspiring.

Considering Disney acquired National Geographic Partners as part of the 21st Century Fox acquisition, it is quite a coincidence that the film starts with Walt Disney introducing the “Man and the Moon” episode of Disneyland. He describes how Tomorrowland features the futuristic idea of a rocket to the moon. We even get a glimpse of Disney Legend Ward Kimball who was the creative force behind the episode.

Much like Walt, this new documentary is inspiring. By hearing the people behind the space program talk in the archival footage, you can’t help but get swept up in their optimism. Therefore, it is fitting that Walt begins the special, because that kind of optimism in the future, is part of what makes him such a visionary whether it is through the use of technology in his entertainment or dreaming up the concept of E.P.C.O.T. As the recent Tomorrowland film made a point of saying, Walt is an optimist.    

Optimism is present not only Walt’s introduction, but throughout the entire film. This personally made it hit home why National Geographic Partners fits well within its new digs at The Walt Disney Company. Exploring new ideas, optimism for the future, and being inspired by the wonder of nature are core principles of both organizations. After all, Walt created the nature documentary with his True-Life Adventure films. And let’s not forget that National Geographic even did a cover story on Disneyland. (For more on that read Bill’s story)

Watching APOLLO: Missions to the Moon, you can’t help be inspired, but also a bit forlorn that our space program has not returned people to the moon or ventured beyond the moon to Mars. The challenges are understandable. Even the documentary showed criticism of the Apollo program for its costs that was shared by citizens at the time. And while we can go on a mission to Mars at Epcot, we may be waiting a long-time before a similar documentary can be assembled about mankind exploring the next frontier. But I wouldn’t be following Walt’s example if I didn’t try and be an optimist. At least while we wait, we can count of Disney and National Geographic to tell us great stories about the world we live in and worlds beyond our reach.

I cannot recommend APOLLO: Missions to the Moon higher. Be inspired and relive the stories of the men and women who sacrificed to accomplish one of the greatest accomplishments in human history. APOLLO: Missions to the Moon airs on the National Geographic channel

 

FanBoy is a Disney dweeb who has worked at Disneyland and Walt Disney World

 

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