July 20, 1969. Anyone who was alive on that day can likely tell you exactly where they were when mankind achieved one of its greatest accomplishments: landing on the moon.
On the 40th anniversary of this amazing feat, The History Channel will present Moonshot, a brand new movie that explores the details of the most famous space mission ever undertaken.
The film opens with the beginning stages of the space program and how the three astronauts who would eventually make up the crew of Apollo 11 – Neil Armstrong (Daniel Lapaine), Buzz Aldrin (James Marsters), and Michael Collins (Andrew Lincoln) – each became part of the space program.
It's clear from the outset that these three men are highly competitive. It was a distinct traits that all astronauts required. It's also clear that these three men start out not liking each other very much but grow to have tremendous respect for each other once the mission is underway, having to co-exist in tight quarters.
There are moments in this film that provide terrific drama and the cast really brings out the emotions that not only the astronauts, but also their wives, felt during the Apollo project. An especially poignant moment comes shortly before the launch when Neil Armstrong is at home reading to his wife Janet (Anna Maxwell-Martin) a letter that she will receive if the mission is unsuccessful and he dies in outer space. It's a fascinating discussion not only on the subject of one's mortality but also a grim reminder of just how risky the entire endeavor was to begin with. The fact that any thought had been given to the possibility that the crew would not return safely is a little jarring. But that was the reality of what everyone in the space program was dealing with.
The film also doesn't gloss over key aspects of the landing itself reminding the viewer that the actual moon landing almost didn't happen. While the mission was a huge success it was not glitch-free, as we are reminded several times.
There is also terrific use of both NASA archive footage as well as CBS News footage of the mission both of which have been enhanced to high definition. Through several montages we are reminded that the moon landing was not only a great day for the United States but for all mankind. It was the rarest of events that truly brought all nations together.
Moonshot does a good job of reminding us why the moon landing remains such a special event to so many people. It is fitting that we should be marking the 40th anniversary of the moon landing with a tremendous reminder of why this event was so special. Once we had the courage as a nation to dream big dreams and take bold steps to make them happen. Maybe we will be inspired to do it again. One hopes that we will because we know we can.