Here at The Solute, we like to celebrate the work of master filmmaker Stanley Kubrick. Everyone knows Stanley Kubrick faked the moon landing, but what this new Apollo 11 documentary presupposes is… maybe he didn’t? And from that intriguing premise, editor/director Todd Douglas Miller creates a sleekly compelling film, full of original footage from 1969 that is now restored to almost uncanny vividness. It doesn’t recreate the experience of watching the moon landing from your living room; instead, it transports you directly into the world of Mission Control and of the astronauts themselves, a world of numbers, staggeringly beautiful vistas, exhilarated rapport, and the tension of making history.
By now, the technology that got Americans to the moon seems almost ridiculously outmoded. It’s probably fair to say that that casts an additional sense of wonder back over this achievement–we did that with this? MacGyver couldn’t have done it any better. Step by step, the film shows the process of turning an ambition that could have been classic hubris into something that could be approached hopefully and professionally. While this was, in the midst of the Cold War, an obvious American political victory, everyone involved seems removed from that–optimistically and touchingly intent on celebrating this moment for, famously, “all mankind.” The movie reverberates with the thrill of achievement for achievement’s sake. As much as I normally loathe the term, it really is a triumph of the human spirit.
Or, at least, of Stanley Kubrick’s spirit.
Apollo 11 is available streaming on Hulu.