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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Science > Space > Apollo 11 (Spacecraft set)

Apollo 11: Men on the Moon (Spacecraft Films)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+      Extras: B-     Main Programs: A



Like the Apollo 8: Leaving the Cradle set Apollo 11: Men on the Moon is another outstanding series brought forth by Fox in working from the NASA archives.  The Apollo 11 mission is of course the mission that changed mankind and became the biggest breakthrough in America’s history.  Similar to the Apollo 8 set, this is also a three-disc box, which breaks down the entire mission in a very comprehensive way.


Disc One is entitled On the Way to History and covers the beginning stages including that of the Saturn V rocket, which is the largest and most powerful vehicle in history.  This rocket also has the best streak completing 13 out of 13 successful missions.  Making Ready also features the actual building of the launch vehicle, and also covers similar material as with Apollo 8 such as altitude chamber, rollout to the pad, and other operations.  Departure contains footage form the actual launch with the crew suiting up and preparing.  You can also use your ‘angle’ button to toggle back and forth between 15 separate launch views. 


Fly Me to the Moon explores the docking of with the lunar module and then covers the third stage, which is the actual trip to the moon.  This section also covers some of the televised transmissions on the way to the moon.  Tranquility Base is the moments before landing when the spacecraft was on the far side of the moon.  No transmissions could be taken at this time, but the footage was rolling as the astronauts filmed certain examinations making sure that the craft was ready for landing.  The final Lunar Landing was shot through the lunar module’s pilot window, which shows the decent of the craft onto the moon.


Disc Two – Lunar Surface Eva is a collection of footage on the actual lunar surface and their ability to withstand the lunar environment.  This is perhaps the material that most of us have seen over and over again.  All of this footage was taken on 16mm with some of it being a stationary camera that was fixed to the lunar module. While some of this material seems lengthy and at times redundant its significance is just as important.  You can access different camera perspectives during certain segments here by using your ‘angle’ button on your remote as well.  There are also two commentary tracks that can be accessed, one is the air to ground transmission and the other is Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin from the post flight debriefing. 


Disc Three – Coming Home is broken into two sections.  There is Onboard Film, which is the 16mm footage of the ascent from the lunar surface as well as many shots inside the Eagle and Columbia crafts.  Mission Accomplished is the return home on July 24th 1969 and shows everything from re-entry to the actual laboratory work on the samples that were collected.  There are also some bonus items on Disc Three such as the training sessions that were used to accustom the astronauts with the lunar surface to the landing training.  The final supplement is preflight interviews taken from the press prior to flight. 


As with Apollo 8: Leaving the Cradle, the material here is also in full-frame and is of similar quality.  We are lucky to have this material in any form, with the material covered here being slightly more interesting than that of Apollo 8.  Since more of this footage was 16mm, it appears to have been handled slightly better due to its importance.  The audio is decent, but plays in a 3.1 type of configuration similar to a Pro Logic II setting. 


This is by far the most interesting of any of the launches, but Apollo 8 is a great set to own as a companion piece to this.  In fact, anyone interested in this material will certainly love any of this material the Fox is putting out including the Apollo 15, 16, and 17 sets that are due out soon.  Apollo 11 will always be remembered, but this is the most comprehensive material ever issued to cover such a historical event.  One step for man, one giant leap for DVD!  Also check out Criterion’s release of For All Mankind, which offers a slightly better looking picture and a Dolby 5.1 mix.



-   Nate Goss


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