For All Mankind (The Criterion Collection)
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I was nine when the Apollo 11 Eagle landed on the moon. I remember vividly watching it on a small black-and-white TV at sleepaway camp that summer of 1969. I’ve been hooked on the space program ever since. Just about twenty years ago, a friend told me he had seen a rough cut of a new space movie and I should see it. I got a tape and watched For All Mankind for the first time. It was unlike anything I had seen before, and I knew that I wanted to be a part of it. I met Al Reinert and we became friends. Janus Films helped to finish the film, and I became an associate producer as we completed the movie. For All Mankind was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary—losing out to Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt. It played festivals around the world. There was a special screening for NASA and the astronauts in Galveston, Texas, and the film showed at the Air and Space Museum at the celebration of the twentieth anniversary of the moon landing.
We started working on the laserdisc release of For All Mankind before the film was complete, and I traveled to Houston to meet Al and interview Apollo 12 astronaut Alan Bean for inclusion on the disc. Bean’s comments were so good that Al recut the film to include a wonderful story about piloting the lunar module in orbit around moon. Meeting one of the astronauts who walked on the moon is still one of the greatest thrills of my life. Last year, when we began working on our Blu-ray release of For All Mankind, we got in touch with Bean again and asked him to participate. He happily agreed to update the feature on his paintings and also to sit down and talk with us about a subject I had become very interested in—science versus art. I wanted to explore the question of whether the astronauts (or the people at NASA) realized they were shooting some of the most artistic images ever recorded (and now some of the most famous) or if it was really all about moon rocks and beating the Russians. This second meeting with Bean didn’t disappoint; he says some wonderful things that are included on the disc. When we finished taping our interview session, he gave me a ride to lunch. The famous Apollo 12 Corvette is gone, replaced by a truck to carry his paintings, but that ten-minute ride will stay with me forever. He talked about walking on the moon; I talked about what movies I like. It didn’t seem quite parallel—for him it was an interesting conversation, for me, it was an audience with a hero.
Over the years, I think I’ve seen every film and TV miniseries about the Apollo program (at least twice), but for me For All Mankind still stands apart. It is unique in its poetic approach and ability to capture the pure emotion of the greatest journey of our time.
Top Customer Reviews
The footage is fantastic and rarely seen, even in real documentaries about Apollo. The pace at many points slows, and you are invited to dwell on the scenes, and perhaps even picture yourself there with the astronauts. A particular treat is that the movie is heavy on footage from the final mission involving the lunar rover, where the real exploration took place. These missions are often woefully represented, but here you get a sense of what it must have been like to have diven miles from the LM, exploring the lunar surface in complete solitude; or in other parts of the movie to have orbited alone in the CSM. Other treats are candid footage of the controllers in Houston, as well as dramatic usage of JFK's speach on Apollo given at Rice university in 1962. I will admit that the film doesn't state the true context of any of its footage, and a good portion of my enjoyment is being able to sort this out for myself; however, more than anything this program reminds me of what it was like to grow up and go to the moon with Apollo.
The film that was brought back from the moon, original film elements, were used in the creation of this documentary to begin with when it was first compiled into an intriguing film some 20 years ago. With the advent of the new digital remaster, the film looks COMPLETELY different; so much so that my 12 year old daughter thought that the scenes shot on the Rover were special effects! Imagine her surprise when I told her that was actual moon mission footage, and it was as real and as untouched as if she herself were to take it using a camera. I don't think she ever grasped that fully. In any case, the video is INCREDIBLE.
The audio of this wonderful film is provided by the voices of the astronauts and their machinery as well as an ambient soundtrack by Brian Eno. The music fully immerses you in its wondrous and enveloping score. The new transfer of the Eno audio soundtrack really cannot be adequately described...it is truly a masterpiece, because it becomes part of the film; it IS the film...it literally feels like part of the missions represented in this documentary. You are surrounded by these voices and machines and this incredible, incredible score by Eno...and it is truly an experience.
I've had the film on DVD for a number of years and it has always been one of my favorites (these guys were all my heroes growing up in the 60s and 70s and I'm a NASA buff). With the new Blu Ray presentation, Criterion has pulled out all the stops.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I was part of the Boeing team that designed and built the Saturn V rocket that sent men to the moon. This was a great presentation of that historic event. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Ralph H. Nansen
This is one of the great films of our time - and how lucky those of us who saw the Apollo Era from beginning to end were, to be a tiny part of this great adventure. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Donald M. Scott
Profoundly disappointing. This is a poor edit; clips from multiple missions are interspersed with no rhyme or reason. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Hell's Kitchenette
Awesome! One of the most intimate films about the apollo era of space exploration! Open your heart to the wonder of going to the moon! Read morePublished 8 months ago by mike Crelly
very good movie - interesting, historical reference. was only about the first lunar landing and it's 3 astronauts.Published 8 months ago by Perspectech
I was somewhat disappointed by this disk. The footage is excellent. But there are some out of context shots. Read morePublished 10 months ago by C. L.