Only a few seconds into Apollo 11 you realize that this is unlike any documentary you have ever seen. In crystal clear, breathtaking details, NASA's crawler carrier – a veritable city on wheels-lumbers across the screen, curing the mighty Saturn V rocket to its home page. A few weeks later, the rocket sends three American astronauts to the moon.
You know the story, but you've never seen it like that.
Consisting exclusively of archive films that have never before been released to the public, Apollo 11 now in theaters, tells the story of the first moon landing as if it were a Hollywood thriller. There are no interviews with the topics, no heavy-handed story. There are only the sounds and pictures of the apartment ̵
That its end is predetermined (they reach the moon, plane flag, no door) does not make Apollo 11 no less exciting. The excavated recording is too fascinating and the feat is too incredible for you to look away. It is a portrayal of a wonderful human experience, told with exciting clarity. It's as close as any of us ever gets to the big gray stone that floats far above our heads.
Director Todd Douglas Miller and archival player Stephen Slater worked with NASA and the United States National Archives to ward off hundreds of hours of video (paywall) and thousands of hours of audio as they then had to match for the recordings. (They also had to convert the entire movie into a digital format.) Perhaps humanity's only event is as meticulous and precise as launching three people to the moon action to make all that recording a coherent, exciting tale.  It helps that the images they found really are remarkable. The accompanying sound is also a total treat, especially the radio communication between the astronauts and the mission control back in Houston, Texas. (A particular gem is a radio communicator that records the three astronauts' heart rates during the launch sequence. Collins and Armstrong were both well over 100 as you would expect. Aldrins 86 was basically a normal rest period.)
Apollo 11 Coming Soon After Another Documentary Making Great Use Of Archive Film-Peter Jackson's World War I doc They Don't Grow Old . Jackson and his team aimed through 600 hours of video from Imperial War Museums in England and audio from the BBC archives before being restored, tinted and converted to digital. Jackson also hired reading readers to decipher what the soldiers in the footage said and voice actors to execute their words.
Neither surveying in 1969 nor World War I are mysteries to the public, but these two documentaries both fill in gaps in the emotional stories, using faces, voices and personal accounts to add to our understanding of these historical moments. The story is not finished when you learn what happened. We should also unravel, as best we can, how it was to be there. In less than two hours Apollo 11 takes us to the moon and back.