DirectorDavid Sington Initial DVD releaseFebruary 12, 2008 Duration LanguageEnglish
Release date19 January 2007 (2007-01-19) (Sundance Film Festival)
2 November 2007 (2007-11-02) (United Kingdom) CastBuzz Aldrin (Himself), Michael Collins, Alan Bean, Eugene Cernan, Charles Duke, James Lovell Similar moviesInterstellar, The Martian, Gravity, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Avatar, Mission to Mir
In the Shadow of the Moon is a 2007 British documentary film about the United States' manned missions to the Moon. It premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the World Cinema Audience Award. In March 2008, it was the first film to win the Sir Arthur Clarke Award for Best Film Presentation. It was given a limited release in the United States on 7 September 2007, and in Canada on 19 October 2007. It was released on DVD in the United States on 22 February 2008, and 31 March 2008, in the United Kingdom. It is also notable for giving Gareth Edwards (who would go on to direct Godzilla) an early credit in visual effects.
In the Shadow of the Moon follows the manned missions to the Moon made by the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The documentary reviews both the footage and media available to the public at the time of the missions, as well as NASA films and materials which had not been opened in over 30 years. All of this has been sourced and remastered in HD by the stock footage company Footagevault. Augmenting the archival audio and video are contemporary interviews with some surviving Apollo era astronauts, including Al Bean, Michael Collins, Buzz Aldrin, John Young, David Scott, Charlie Duke, Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt. The former astronauts have the only speaking roles in the movie, although occasional supplementary information is presented on screen with text and archival television footage presents the words of journalists such as Jules Bergman and Walter Cronkite. The only surviving moon walker at the time not to participate was Neil Armstrong, the first person to set foot on the Moon.
The documentary shares its name with a book by space historians Colin Burgess and Francis French, and both include many original interviews with Apollo lunar astronauts. The documentary offers a view of the Apollo program that is complementary to the book and is neither a source nor a tie-in.
Ten former astronauts appear in In the Shadow of the Moon. During the Apollo Program, twenty-four men reached the vicinity of the Moon. Of the twelve who actually set foot on the lunar surface, eight appear on camera (Neil Armstrong did not participate, while Pete Conrad, James Irwin and Alan Shepard had died). Two other astronauts who are featured in In the Shadow of the Moon orbited or looped around the Moon without landing (Jim Lovell and Michael Collins). All manned Apollo flights with the exception of Apollo 7, which was an earth-orbit mission, were represented in the film. The film is presented by Ron Howard, but there is no narration in the film.
Buzz Aldrin, Lunar Module Pilot
Michael Collins, Command Module Pilot
Alan Bean, Lunar Module Pilot
Jim Lovell, Commander (also Apollo 8 CMP)
Edgar Mitchell, Lunar Module Pilot
David Scott, Commander (also Apollo 9 CMP)
John Young, Commander (also Apollo 10 CMP)
Charles Duke, Lunar Module Pilot (also Apollo 11 CapCom)
Eugene Cernan, Commander (also Apollo 10 LMP)
Harrison Schmitt, Lunar Module Pilot
Critics gave the film very positive reviews. Metacritic reported In the Shadow of the Moon had an average score of 84 out of 100, based on 34 reviews, classifying the film's reception as "Universal Acclaim." Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a 94% rating based on 111 reviews. Furthermore, 4,884 users of IMDb gave the film 8.1/10 points.
Roger Ebert called it "spellbinding". Entertainment Weekly rated the movie an A. The Los Angeles Times called the film a "fresh and compelling film, made with intelligence and emotion" Meanwhile, The Hollywood Reporter concluded that "The value of this film, not just to moviegoers today but to future generations, is simply enormous."
On 23 June 2008 the Independent Investigations Group (IIG) honoured In the Shadow of the Moon for promoting scientific skepticism in media; the award was received by producer Duncan Copp.