Thursday, September 27, 2007

The whole world was moonstruck

Summary: The stirring new documentary "In the Shadow of the Moon" takes us back to the days of the Apollo moon shots, reminding us that it's possible for the whole planet to be united in around a triumphal experience. If this is nostalgia, bring it on. We could use more of it.

It falls to British director David Sington to jog memories of a time when nearly all of us managed to feel good about something. Stirring footage from various Apollo missions and interviews with the men who flew them make "In the Shadow of the Moon" a must-see for those who wish to recharge the batteries of shared purpose and humility.

Neil Armstrong, the first man to talk on the moon, wouldn't participate, but even his absence becomes a kind of eloquent statement about the way individuals can conquer egotism for the sake of larger goals -- and this one was fraught with danger and uncertainty. The lunar landing exacted a high toll: Three astronauts were killed during a 1967 test run for one of the missions.

Of all the images that movies routinely provide, some wear out their welcome. That can't be said about the sight of our tiny planet from space. That humbling picture reminds us of our shared earthly fate. Consider it an axiom: When the view becomes Olympian, our many struggles seem to shrink in size.

And that's about all that needs to be said about "In the Shadow of the Moon," except for three additional words, "Go see it."

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