Written by General Jabbo
It’s been nearly 35 years since the last men set foot on the moon, yet the Apollo lunar missions continue to pique our curiosity. After all, only 12 men have accomplished the feat. We have the photos and video from the original mission, but they are primitive by today’s standards. Now, through modern technology and IMAX, we are offered a glimpse of what the astronauts might have seen on those brave missions.
Hosted by Academy Award-winner Tom Hanks, Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon was originally presented as an IMAX film in 3D and features original photos and video from the Apollo missions, as well as newly created footage in an attempt to recreate the moon’s surface. While any film converted from IMAX to standard widescreen suffers from a loss of grandiosity, the images are nonetheless stunning. The film does a fine job in showing what the lunar missions were like, in the limited amount of time the astronauts had on the surface and the difficulties with perspective when walking. One minute they could be on solid ground, the next they could be standing over Hadley Rille – a cavernous, deep rille that would be like standing over the Grand Canyon on earth.
In addition to Hanks’ narration, Magnificent Desolation has voiceovers from many famous actors, including Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon, and Paul Newman, reading quotes from the actual astronauts from the Apollo missions. There are also interviews with grade-school students, testing their knowledge of the missions to the moon. One student in particular, Veronica Lugo, age 7, believes she will be the first kid on the moon and wants to be an astronaut when she grows up. A scene at the end of the film imagines her as Commander Lugo, overlooking a base on the moon. It is a breathtaking visual to say the least.
Magnificent Desolation ponders the question of what if something went wrong on the moon and demonstrates how two astronauts may have shared one oxygen supply to survive. Nothing like this ever happened, but it is something the astronauts had to be prepared for.
The DVD has a number of bonus features, including NASA photos, a video diary, a trivia game and maps of the lunar surface from the various missions.
Many people believe the lunar missions were staged and never really happened. The film addresses those people by explaining it was hard for them to believe because the moon always seemed out of our reach. The moon is definitely within our reach on Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon. Through vintage footage and new recreations, it is as close as most of us will ever come to setting foot on the moon.