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In the Shadow of the Moon (DVD Review)

13 Jan, 2008 By: John Latchem

Prebook 1/17/08; Street 2/12/08

Box Office $1.1 million
$19.98 DVD
Rated ‘PG' for mild language, brief violent images and incidental smoking.
Stars Buzz Aldrin, Mike Collins, Al Bean, Jim Lovell, Edgar Mitchell, Dave Scott, John Young, Charlie Duke, Gene Cernan, Harrison Schmitt.

One of the primary concerns with NASA's manned missions to the moon was the prospect of a catastrophic failure that would leave the astronauts stranded there. The dark notion that man's hubris had turned such a heavenly body into an actual grave would ruin the moon forever for stargazers who could never again look upon it with the sense of serenity it had always represented.

At one point during In the Shadow of the Moon, astronaut Al Bean (Apollo 12) reads from a speech written for President Nixon in case the Apollo 11 mission had failed, and Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin had been trapped on the lunar surface. Such a fascinating glimpse into an alternate history certainly frames the risks involved in attempting this dangerous endeavor. From 1968 to 1972, 24 men crossed the void between the Earth and the Moon, half as many set foot upon it, and all returned safely.

Anyone familiar with the movie Apollo 13 or HBO's From the Earth to the Moon will recognize many of the details discussed here. Knowing most of the story doesn't make this documentary any less compelling, and those who don't know will find In the Shadow of the Moon especially enlightening. This film should be seen by anyone who has ever looked to the heavens and wondered how far our imagination can take us.

The feat of landing a man on the moon is undoubtedly the greatest achievement in the history of human adventure. In the Shadow of the Moon features the Apollo astronauts themselves, now older and wiser, recounting the voyage in their own words, accompanied by archival footage of the missions.

These men are heroes, but more importantly they are symbols for mankind's limitless capacity for ingenuity. Yet they are just people, subject to the same whims and epiphanies as anyone.

How humbling must it be to soar above the skies and look back upon the cradle of life that is the Earth? Only a handful of individuals have shared that experience, each changed forever at a spiritual level by the sight of a shiny blue marble adrift in a sea of stars.

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