A new documentary focuses on 10 surviving Apollo astronauts, as they share their memories and their feelings about their missions to the moon.
Three billion people watched as Apollo 11, the first manned mission to the moon, blasted into space in 1968. In his new documentary, "In The Shadow of the Moon," director David Sington recaptures that moment. He also revisits the rest of the manned Apollo missions.
"We [human beings] are the creatures on this planet that are self conscious, that understand our own situation," says the filmmaker. "But," he continues, "I don't think that understanding was complete until these few handful, these 24 guys left the earth and we were able to see it in its entirety for the first time."
Decades later, 10 of these astronauts describe how it felt to venture to the moon. One of them said: "I felt that I was literally standing on God's front porch." "I remember thinking. My God! That little thing is so fragile up there!" Says another. Then, another adds: "That jewel of Earth just hung up in the blackness of space."
Director David Sington says most of the high definition footage in his documentary has never been seen before.
"NASA had kept the majority of it in cold storage to preserve it literally, under liquid nitrogen, which made it very, very difficult for filmmakers to access,"He notes. "We knew, from talking to the people at NASA that they were in the process of taking this footage out from under cold storage and transferring it into this new High Definition video format. So," continues the director, "that video would be available to us and easy to use. We we were just the first people to be able to exploit it."
The astronauts' intimate accounts add depth to the film and enhance the stunning visuals. They describe their early days of training, their excitement, their sense of awe and uncertainty. And then, there was the flight home, a hero's homecoming.
Astronaut Tom Collins, of the Apollo 11 mission remembers. "Wherever we went people instead of saying 'Well, you Americans did it,' everywhere they said, 'We did it. We humankind. We the human race. We people did it.' From Europeans, Asians, Africans, wherever we went, it was 'We finally did it.' And I thought that was a wonderful thing." Ephemeral, but wonderful."
The documentary "In the Shadow of the Moon" recaptures that feeling and renews that pride.