Apollo 11 Film Review


”No matter where you travel, it’s always nice to get home.”
- Neil Armstrong 1969

The moon landing was a monumental event that over 82% of our current population, was not alive to experience. The 2019 documentary film ‘Apollo 11’, which is edited, produced and directed by Todd Douglas Miller, brilliantly highlights the significant event of the first man landing on the moon. 

Miller’s film direction allows the viewer to travel with Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins on their journey to the surface of the moon. The film also highlights the mass amounts of people involved in the Apollo 11 mission, the privilege the team felt to be a part of the first moon landing in 1969 and the impact it had on the world at the time.

The entire movie is made up of footage from 1969, and the 10 days the Apollo 11 mission took until its completion. All the audio you hear, is from the astronauts inside the spacecraft, the crew on the ground and even US President Kennedy, who speaks to Neil Armstrong when he is on the moon. There is absolutely no additional audio; nothing recorded past the significant period in 1969 is included in this film. This allows the viewer to feel as though they are immersed in what the event would have felt like for everyone involved at the time. 

The footage of the public crowd in Apollo 11 shows people who seem to be intrigued but also cautious by the recording device being near and around them. The first recording devices were not released to the public for almost another 15 years, explaining the confusion. This fact, however, is important in telling another story in Miller's film. It attributes to the fact of how advanced the technology was in 1969 to actually land on the moon and return safely at a time when we didn’t even have video camera technology that was publicly accessible - it almost sounds impossible! 

In this film, the viewer is able to delve into the public experience of the 1969 moon landing, as Miller highlights the mass crowds in Florida who lined up on the streets. An estimated one million people watched the launch and experienced this piece of history. The Vietnam War was also in full swing at the time of the moon landing, and this is mentioned in Miller’s film, highlighting a large contrast between the atrocities happening on our own planet, when on the other side of the world other people are preparing to leave our planet in great triumph. 

Internal footage is shown from ground crews in both Houston and Florida, capturing the mass amounts of people it takes to run the mission, and how affected they were by the success. And of course, the audience gets to follow Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins on their personal experience of flying into space and making it back safely again.

Miller uses music with a fast tempo and slow crescendos to create the intense event that was the moon landing. The music creates excitement, suspense and intrigue within the viewer when watching ‘Apollo 11’. This is important as the moon landing is something viewers will already have knowledge on, so rather than just an informative documentary, Miller creates emotional connection within the film too. 

The use of President Kennedy’s audio, and the call to Armstrong on the moon helps to depict how important this was to America as a country at that point in time in the space race during the Cold War. Kennedy’s speech is emotional, and he reaffirms to the audience just how amazing this moon landing is, and how not only is this amazing for America, but for everyone around the world. 

Apollo 11 is showing in Australian cinemas from July 19th.

FilmKat Stevens