David Sington's new documentary In the Shadow of the Moon has a hook as simple as it is effective: Ask the surviving Apollo astronauts about their experiences. Combining new interviews with archival footage -- from NASA and other sources -- In the Shadow of the Moon's both transcendently beautiful and impressively down-to-earth. The footage of the moon missions -- some of it never seen before -- is both beautiful and magnificent; the interviews with the astronauts (with the notable absence of Neil Armstrong) are human and humble. There are no interviews with cultural commentators or scientists or NASA administrators -- just the small group of men who've been to our nearest celestial neighbor: This is who we are; this is what we did.
Sington's written and directed science-based material for TV, but In the Shadow of the Moon isn't just a TV piece writ large on the big screen; it's cinematic in scope, style and execution. In many ways, the difficulty with a documentary like In the Shadow of the Moon isn't finding archival material but rather trying to whittle a colossal mass of material down into a coherent, comprehensible size. Sington's editing team turns the hours and hours of archival and news footage about the moon missions and manages to condense them into a 100-minute story of wonder and adventure.