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The Apollo Story (DVD Details)

Unique ID Code: 0000115818
Added by: David Simpson
Added on: 30/4/2009 12:22
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    The Apollo Story

    7 / 10

    The Apollo Story

    I love Patrick Moore, he has such an infectious enthusiasm that you can't help but like him. Almost like David Attenborough, if he tells me anything I would believe it. Why this was not capitalised on more for this release to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing is beyond me, as at only 46mins... it's just not enough. Landing on the moon is possibly man's greatest achievement of the 20th Century. Not the car, not the plane, not television or computers, it was sending someone to the moon and back. Though this documentary is a nice 'Beginner's Guide' to The Apollo Story, the fact is that to sum up seventeen space missions in 46mins is just ridiculous, I think I've seen longer documentaries on Apollo 11 alone!

    The documentary analyses the launch of the Apollo missions after Kennedy's infamous 'we will put a man on the moon' speech up to Apollo 11and the landing on the Moon in 1969. We then get to see the other missions such as the infamous Apollo 13 (We've all seen the film, right?) up to the final Moon landing by the Apollo 17 in 1972.

    Though a lot is brushed over, there is still a great deal of information in the documentary with space flight explained from launch to landing and return. It's curious to watch this as when you see landing module launch from the moon we see this with the camera following it up as it goes. Watching this, you understand why there are so many sceptics of the moonlandings. I mean was the camera motion sensitive or remotely controlled? The fact that there have been no Moon landings since 1972 despite almost forty years of advances in technology it does make you wonder what we have learnt in this time, besides how to launch probes into space? One crazy and frightening thought is the simple statement Moore makes 'There was no provision for rescue if the astronauts make a faulty touchdown on the Moon'. On hearing this, you do have to admire the courage of everyone who does this and takes that risk.

    Sadly, despite my enjoyment of the documentary, it is simply too short to recommend. A slideshow photo gallery, is a nice extra touch to the DVD, but the fact it is only two minutes long and is not interactive makes it a wasted opportunity. Unless you are specifically looking for a brief overview or wanting to look at some archive footage of the missions (of which there is a wealth of it here) there is nothing that would make this a 'must have' item.

    Your Opinions and Comments

    The ascent of the landing module was one of the most brilliant bits of timing of the lunar missions.  The camera operator in Houston had a joystick he could pan and tilt the camera with by remote control.  Mission Control knew the exact time when the lunar ascent engine would fire, and how long the signal would take from the camera operator on Earth to the camera.  During the countdown, the operator was cued at exactly the right moment before zero was reached.  They had to wait for exactly the same interval after zero for the image signal to arrive back on Earth, and when it did they found that like any good gag, timing has to be perfect.

    It's a depressing thought, however, that while all the film and broadcast material produced by NASA survives to this day, a very different story is true for the BBC's studio linking material.  With the exception of a few clips (including one of James Burke manipulating a model of the Apollo craft), very little survives of the BBC's actual coverage of the missions to the Moon.
    posted by Mark Oates on 3/5/2009 02:25