Apollo 8: Leaving the Cradle
Picture: C Sound: C Extras: B- Main
Apollo 8 was America’s
first manned lunar orbit, which occurred on December 21, 1968. Three men were aboard that shuttle and
became the first human beings to ever leave the Earth’s atmosphere. This all would occur almost one year before
the actual landing on the moon and would be the ultimate test to see if a lunar
landing would be possible. If any
mission secured that idea, it was Apollo 8!
Fox is issuing DVD-only
editions of NASA’s history and will go to the fullest extent of pulling
together documented material and bringing them to life on DVD. Their first installments include The
Mighty Saturn’s (reviewed on this site) Project Gemini: A Bold Leap
Forward (also on this site) and two Apollo missions 8 and 11. They also plan on releasing Apollo 15, 16,
and 17, with each being a 6-disc set.
Apollo 8: Leaving the
Cradle is broken down onto three
discs. Disc One contains three
sections: Preparation, Moonport, and To The Moon. Preparation reveals all the tests the
needed to be done early on in order to secure a safe launch. This includes the centrifuge tests, altitude
chamber, and the actual walk taken from base to the launch site, a countdown
demonstration, and the deluge test. The
deluge test shows how the watering system is used in order to protect certain
hardware during the launch.
Moonport covers the transport of the Apollo 8 vehicle to
its final pad and there is also material here on certain operations and
preparations for the men before launch. To The Moon shows alternate angles of the launch sequence,
which can be changed by using the ‘angle’ button on your remote in order to
toggle from each perspective. This is
the most interaction section. There are
also various pad camera views as well as static shots from the air and the
ground. The splashdown is also covered
here of the Apollo 8 shuttle.
Disc Two includes all the
television transmissions from Apollo 8.
This disc is broken down by each transmission, which covers all
six. The first occurred on December 22nd
1968 and at this point the astronauts are about midway to their final
destination. There are certain views on
Earth from this point, but most of this footage is hard to see. The most exciting and memorable transmission
occurs on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day as we finally get a view of the lunar
surface as the astronauts are at their farthest distance.
Disc Three shows all the
16mm footage that was taken from the spacecraft and shows footage of life
aboard the ship. Not only are inside
shots shown, but also spectacular shots of the moon. Only six of the magazines of film that were taken could be saved,
the others were exposed.
Each of the discs presents
a different aspect of the overall Apollo 8 mission. Also there are post-recorded audio files that have been placed
onto the disc in order to gain some sense of what is going on almost like a
commentary track. There are also some
onboard voice recordings that have survived and are also included.
All of the footage is
presented in a full-screen ratio that certainly shows all the degrading
qualities that can be expected from this type of material. Given its age and source, we cannot be too
picky on what we are getting. The audio
is sounds more like a 3.1 configuration, which might sound better if switched
strictly to stereo. The sound is never
really clean and delivers all the hiss and interference that is expected.
Apollo 8: Leaving The
Cradle may not be the most
well-known mission since it did not exactly land on the moon, but during its
time it was certainly an achievement that if it did not go right, who knows if
we would have ever made it to the moon.
Certainly our race into space was documented with each detail recorded
with great historical significance.
It’s a great thing having this material finally onto a format like DVD
to keep. This is certainly a set that
all serious libraries and schools need!
- Nate Goss