What is a conspiracy theory? More than that, what is a conspiracy theory documentary? The Landing, a new faux documentary about the aftermath of an Apollo 18 landing, unravels the talking-head documentary format while dismantling all of the layers of trust we’ve built around constructed narratives. It’s an ingenious piece of mystery film making that comments on the truths we believe and are sold on a daily basis.
Back in the 1972, Bo Cunningham, Ed Lovett and Al Borden formed the Apollo 18 team, yet another mission to land a lunar module on the moon and return back to Earth. Bo Cunningham was responsible for maneuvering the return module while Ed and Al flew the lunar module and landed on the moon. But, the calculations for the return entry were, somehow all wrong. Bo was able to override the erroneous computer commands and steer the ship to safety in the desert of China, where Ed and Al succumbed to death before they could be rescued. What actually happened in the air and on the ground is up for much debate and was subject to a full government investigation. The mysteries and contradictions built up into a vast mystery of what happened and who was responsible.
The Landing constructs its mystery in the same fashion as an episode of 20/20 or any other “unraveling the mystery” documentary that keeps steadily revealing new information that pulls your deeper into questioning reality…or at least our construction of reality. The film is extremely prescient this year with the conspiracy theories that is flying around the DNC, RNC, Russia and the White House. But, whose story do we believe? More than that, which story will we ultimately accept as truth? And why should we believe those stories? The answers may challenge more than you think.
Thought-provoking and challenging, The Landing is one of the ultimate sci-fi pieces that reflects and comments on modern society. That’s not to say it doesn’t have flaws. Even at a mere 86 minutes, there were many parts that felt padded out with repetitive information and motifs throughout the film. For instance, if I have to hear Scott McKenzie’s San Francisco (“wear some flowers in your hair”) one more time, I’m gonna scream. That said, the repetitive information helps the slower viewer navigate time and location in a movie that tries to bend time and space backwards. It’s a fascinating but flawed provocation, more interesting than it should be.