Apollo 11 (2019 film)

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Apollo 11
Apollo 11 (2019 film).png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byTodd Douglas Miller
Produced by
  • Todd Douglas Miller
  • Thomas Petersen
  • Evan Krauss
Music byMatt Morton
Edited byTodd Douglas Miller
Production
company
Distributed byNeon[1]
Release date
  • January 24, 2019 (2019-01-24) (Sundance)
  • March 1, 2019 (2019-03-01) (United States)
Running time
93 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Box office$6.1 million[2]

Apollo 11 is a 2019 American documentary film edited, produced, and directed by Todd Douglas Miller.[1] It focuses on the 1969 Apollo 11 mission, the first spaceflight to land men on the Moon. The film consists solely of archival footage, including 70 mm film that was previously unreleased to the public, and does not feature narration or interviews.

The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 24, 2019, and was released theatrically in the United States by Neon on March 1, 2019. It received acclaim from critics and has grossed over $6 million.

Production[edit]

Director Todd Douglas Miller began development of this film in 2016, following the release of The Last Steps, a documentary about Apollo 17. Miller was approached by British archivist and film editor Stephen Slater, who had synced audio recordings with 16 mm Mission Control footage, to make a film for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing. [3] Miller's conception of the film was centered on a direct cinema approach; the final film contains no voice-over narration or interviews beyond what was available in the contemporary source material.[4]

In May 2017, cooperation between Miller's production team, NASA, and the National Archives and Records Administration resulted in the discovery of unreleased 70 mm footage from the launch and recovery of Apollo 11.[5][6] The large-format footage includes scenes from Launch Complex 39, spectators present for the launch, the launch of the Saturn V rocket, the recovery of astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong and the Apollo 11 command module, and post-mission efforts aboard the USS Hornet. The documentary included this footage alongside conventional footage from 35 and 16 mm film, still photography, and closed-circuit television footage.[7]

Miller's team used the facilities of Final Frame, a post-production firm in New York City, to transfer all available footage to digital. Specialized climate-controlled vans were used to safely transport the archival material to and from the National Archives in Washington, DC. The production team cataloged over 11,000 hours of audio recordings and hundreds of hours of video. [8] "Mother Country", a song by folk musician John Stewart, is heard in the film.[9]

Neon acquired worldwide theatrical distribution rights to the film in July 2018.[10]

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

In its opening weekend, Apollo 11 grossed $1.6 million from 120 theaters (a per-venue gross of $13,392), finishing 15th at the box office.[11] In its second weekend, the film gave up most of its IMAX venues to newcomer Captain Marvel, but played in a total of 405 traditional theaters and made $1.3 million, finishing 10th at the box office.[12] It continued to hold well in its third weekend, grossing $1.2 million from 588 theaters, just a 2% drop.[13]

Critical response[edit]

Upon its premiere at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, the film received positive reviews from critics, who mostly praised the quality of the film's footage. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 99% based on 94 reviews, with an average rating of 9.12/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Edifying and inspiring in equal measure, Apollo 11 uses artfully repurposed archival footage to send audiences soaring back to a pivotal time in American history."[14] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 92 out of 100, based on 25 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[15]

In a positive review for IndieWire, David Ehrlich complimented Miller's ability to make the Moon landing sequence feel unique and thrilling, and stated that the clarity of the footage "takes your breath away".[16] In another positive review, Owen Gleiberman of Variety called the footage "quite spectacular", and many critics compared the documentary to Damien Chazelle's 2018 Neil Armstrong biopic First Man in their reviews.[17] Glenn Kenny of The New York Times called the film "entirely awe-inspiring" and wrote, "Although we know how the mission turns out, the movie generates and maintains suspense. And it rekindles a crazy sense of wonder at, among other things, what one can do practically with trigonometry."[1] Matt Zoller Seitz of RogerEbert.com gave the film four-out-of-four stars, calling the film "an adrenaline shot of wonder and skill.... Films this completely imagined and ecstatically realized are so rare that when one comes along, it makes most other movies, even the good ones, seem underachieving. Any information that you happen to absorb while viewing Apollo 11 is secondary to the visceral experience of looking at it and listening to it."[18] Paul Mavis, for Movies & Drinks, wrote, Apollo 11 not only thrills you like a rollercoaster ride, it brings back to life an exceedingly brief moment in the American timeline where brash and wholly warranted confidence in our technological superiority created a miraculous, quantum leap forward for us as a (mostly) unified nation.” [19]

Accolades[edit]

Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) and nominee(s) Result Ref(s)
Sundance Film Festival February 2, 2019 Special Jury Award for Editing Todd Douglas Miller Won [20]
US Documentary Grand Jury Prize Todd Douglas Miller Nominated

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Kenny, Glenn (February 27, 2019). "'Apollo 11' Review: The 1969 Moon Mission Still Has the Power to Thrill". The New York Times. Retrieved February 28, 2019.
  2. ^ "Apollo 11 (2019)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved March 22, 2019.
  3. ^ Horton, Adrian (2019-02-27). "'We felt a huge responsibility' – behind the landmark Apollo 11 documentary". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
  4. ^ Dick, Jason. "How the National Archives helped 'Apollo 11' get a fresh look". Roll Call (28 February 2019). Retrieved 3 March 2019.
  5. ^ Horton, Adrian (2019-02-27). "'We felt a huge responsibility' – behind the landmark Apollo 11 documentary". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
  6. ^ Dick, Jason. "How the National Archives helped 'Apollo 11' get a fresh look". Roll Call (28 February 2019). Retrieved 3 March 2019.
  7. ^ Horton, Adrian (2019-02-27). "'We felt a huge responsibility' – behind the landmark Apollo 11 documentary". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
  8. ^ Horton, Adrian (2019-02-27). "'We felt a huge responsibility' – behind the landmark Apollo 11 documentary". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
  9. ^ From the film's end credits.
  10. ^ McNary, Owen (July 20, 2018). "Neon Buys 'Apollo 11' Moon Landing Documentary". Variety. Variety Media. Retrieved January 30, 2019.
  11. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (March 3, 2019). "'Dragon 3' Keeps The Fire Burning At No. 1 With $30M Second Weekend; 'Madea' Mints $27M". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 3, 2019.
  12. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (March 11, 2019). "'Captain Marvel' Tramples Internet Trolls & Skyrockets To $160M Opening". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 11, 2019.
  13. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (March 17, 2019). "'Captain Marvel' Rises To Second Best 2nd Weekend In March With $69M+ – Sunday AM Update". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 17, 2019.
  14. ^ "Apollo 11 (2019)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved March 9, 2019.
  15. ^ "Apollo 11 Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved March 9, 2019.
  16. ^ Ehrlich, David (January 25, 2019). "Apollo 11 Review: Astonishing NASA Doc Takes You Back in Time". IndieWire. Penske Business Media. Retrieved January 30, 2019.
  17. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (January 24, 2019). "'Apollo 11' Review: A Heady Documentary Drawn From the NASA Vaults". Variety. Variety Media. Retrieved January 30, 2019.
  18. ^ Seitz, Matt Zoller (March 1, 2019). "Apollo 11 Movie Review & Film Summary (2019)". RogerEbert.com. Ebert Digital LLC. Retrieved March 2, 2019.
  19. ^ Mavis, Paul. "Apollo 11 (2019)". Movies & Drinks. Retrieved 2019-03-15.
  20. ^ Debruge, Peter (February 2, 2019). "Sundance Winners: 'Clemency,' 'One Child Nation' Take Top Honors". Variety. Retrieved February 3, 2019.

External links[edit]