The Space Race documentaries/docudramas

I posted in GQ about a Deke Slayton UL and decided to pull out Moon Shot, a documentarty about the Apollo flights. Wow. Slayton, Schirra, Shepard, Cooper and Grissom are all gone. Carpenter and Glenn are octogenarians. Moon Shot is an excellent documentary that really should be on DVD.

I have Apollo 13 and The Right Stuff on DVD of course, and I’m re-watching From The Earth To The Moon now.

What other Mercury/Gemini/Apollo films should I have in my library?

There surprisingly aren’t many. You have basically all of them already, unless you’re willing to actually buy Capricorn One.

Already have done. :wink: (

But no, I’m looking for doumentaries and docudramas.)

NASA itself has produced a bunch of DVDs documenting the various space programs. I found a whole collection in the bargain bin of my local big-box retailer. The quality isn’t always great, but it’s actual footage of the launches.

Here’s a 10 hour collection of NASA documentary footage, for $9.98

Here’s a five-DVD collection: NASA: 50 Years of Space Exploration!.

If you do a DVD search on Amazon for “NASA”, you’ll find some more.

I don’t really know of anything else that fits the bill.

I saw those. I look a little askance at videos that promise a lot of video. That first one doesn’t have any reviews or even descriptions. I’d hate to get ten hours of silent footage, or narration that barely reaches The History Channel level. Do you have that one? How is it?

The second one looks interesting.

For All Mankind

The ones I’ve got are pretty decent. They have narration. A lot of it is simply descriptive, like this:

“Here we see astronauts Aldrin and Armstriog heading out to the launching pad for a training mission. Today, they will be going over launch sequences and failure modes…”

In other words, it’s almost like newsreel footage. But in other areas there’s a narration that follows a timeline, explains things in depth, and is voiced from someone who knows the future (i.e. “Little did they know at the time, but this was to be the last Apollo Mission…”) It’s kind of like watching an older documentary on the History channel or something.

It’s definitely worth the money, as it’s an ‘official’ historical record. And it certainly held my attention. The biggest problem is video quality - it ranges from quite good to terrible, being as its all from original film footage, and there probably wasn’t a huge budget to do a major restoration project on all of it.

I went ahead and ordered those. Now if only I had a gigantic plasma TV and SurroundSound… :wink:

I thought about picking up For All Mankind but it seemed a bit pricey and the reviews were mixed. (Nice footage, but superficial according to some reviewers at amazon.) I’ll have to see it before I’ll buy it.

Robot Arm beat me to ity. I saw For All Mankind in the theater. I don’t know what you mean by “superficial” – It’s made of actual footage from the missions, without any reconstructions or behind-the-scenes stuff, so by its very nature it isn’t going to delve deeply. But it’s the pla ce to get the real, unadulterated footage of the moon missions.

At Sundance this year was a remarkable documentary In the Shadow of the Moon. It appears that it will be released on September 7, 2007. It’s got footage that was previously never released. I got chills watching it. Apollo astronaut David Scott was influential in the production, and I should’ve tried to shake his hand, but I figured he was tired of all the glad handing. It’s an excellent film, and you will see it one of these days.

And For All Mankind has an awesome Brian Eno sountrack.

Just going by what people were saying at amazon. For example, someone said that the footage is edited together to imply that there was a spacewalk on the way to the moon (using Gemini footage). There were complaints about ‘artistic liberties’ by more than one person. The impression I have from the reviews is that this is more an attempt to give people a taste of what it ‘feels like’ to fly to the moon, instead of a traditional documentary. I like pretty pictures (and even the people who gave low reviews lauded the images), but I also want facts, histories, etc. to go along with them.

Spacecraft Films

Coincidentally, I’ve ordered the Gemini one.

Who you gonna believe, me or them?

Although I can understand what they’re getting at. During the lunar missions, all the news coverage used the video transmissions. The astronauts had better cameras with them, but by the time they returned and the film was developed, the news cycle had moved on to other things. Al Reinert made For All Mankind when he found out how much high-quality footage NASA had that had never been seen by the public.

If you’re looking for facts about the Apollo missions, you probably won’t find any new ones here. But if you ever have a chance to see this, especially on a big screen, it’s stunning.

In one of our the-landings-were-faked threads, some nutjob said it was suspicious that all the footage we had from the moon was of such low quality. Surely if NASA had really gone to the moon, they’d have taken some good cameras to document it. I told him they did, and someone made a movie out of it, and suddenly that was suspicious, too.

Here’s a short film about the early days of space exploration that will surprise some people:

It was a different time, you understand.

I just wouldn’t like to have New Age eye candy.

You’ll have to point me to that thread. :smiley:

Heh. Saw that one. :wink:

Some years back (around an anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing - 1989? 1994?) A&E ran a movie on the space race. I’m under the impression it was made by the United States Information Agency (which is no more) but I may well be wrong. I am sure the music track for the move came from Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells (whether it was made before or after that music came to be associated with The Exorcist, I do not know). I think I have a copy of that movie on tape, but I don’t have a BetaMax handy. . . .

I bought Test Flights: Beyond The Limits years ago, but since it’s on VHS I never got around to watching it. Though I have to turn in early on work nights I’ve popped in the first tape, which related flight testing to the X-33 (which was still alive at the time). Lots of great footage of X-15s. Right now they’re showing lifting bodies, for which I have a soft spot in my head. (Man, I’d like to build a replica M2-F1!)

In the X-15 segment they had a lithograph of an X-15 being launched from the B-52 on the wall. I have that lithograph, signed by the artist and Knight. :cool:

(And to prove what a geek I am, I also have a framed lithograph of Bob McCall’s mural at Nasa-Dryden featuring the X-planes.)

Here’s a Nova documentary on the Apollo Project: NOVA - To the Moon

A History Channel Special: Race to the Moon