Archival footage, audio immerses viewers in Apollo: Missions to the Moon

  • Walter Schirra in Command Module on Apollo 7. [credit:
    NASA/National Archives and Records Administration ]

This year makes the 50th anniversary of the first manned lunar
landing, so naturally we’re seeing a slew of films and TV programs
celebrating that milestone, like
last year’s First Man
biopic. The latest is a new documentary,

APOLLO: Missions to the Moon
, making its debut on the National
Geographic Channel. Ars had the opportunity to sit down with
filmmaker Tom Jennings and former NASA engineer Frances “Poppy”
Northcutt
back in June to talk about the making of the
documentary, and revisit this pivotal moment in space history.

NASA’s Apollo space program is well-traveled ground in popular
media, so Jennings faced quite the challenge in coming up with a
fresh take. Fortunately, this is also one of the most
well-documented periods in 20th century history. The Emmy and
Peabody Award-winning director pieced together his documentary
using nothing but  hundreds of hours of archival TV footage, radio
broadcasts, film and audio from NASA Mission Control, black-box
recordings from Apollo capsules—even the occasional home movie.
There are no narrators or talking heads, and the end result
provides a much more immersive experience for the viewer than your
typical science documentary.

Jennings has used this approach before to produce documentaries
about the late Princess Diana and the tragedy of the Challenger
space shuttle. “Instead of someone telling you what is was like, I
wanted to try and create something that’s almost like a motion
picture, but everything is real,” he said. “I think that audiences,
if they just give it a minute, get drawn in, in a way they might
not in a more traditional documentary. For people who lived through
it, it’s a way to re-experience it, and for those who aren’t old
enough to remember, it’s as close as we can get to experiencing it
for the first time.”

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Source: FS – All – Science – News
Archival footage, audio immerses viewers in Apollo: Missions to the Moon