For All Mankind

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For All Mankind
For all mankind dvd.jpg
DVD cover
Directed by Al Reinert
Produced by Betsy Broyles Breier
Al Reinert
Ben Young Mason
Fred Miller
Music by Brian Eno, Roger Eno and Daniel Lanois
Edited by Susan Korda
Distributed by Apollo Associates
Release date
  • November 1, 1989 (1989-11-01) (U.S.)
Running time
80 minutes
Country United States
Language English

For All Mankind is a 1989 documentary film covering missions from NASA's Apollo program which accomplished landing the first humans on the Moon from 1969 to 1972. It was directed by Al Reinert with music by Brian Eno. The film concentrates on the beauty of the Earth as seen from space with the experiences of Apollo crew members and mission control staff played over original mission footage.[1]


The film includes over 80 minutes of NASA footage, mostly taken on the Apollo missions of the late 1960s and early 1970s. The documentary focuses on the impact of the missions on the astronauts with the views of crew members played over original mission footage.

Among those providing narration are Jim Lovell (Apollo 8 & Apollo 13), Michael Collins (Apollo 11), Charles Conrad (Apollo 12), Jack Swigert (Apollo 13), and Ken Mattingly (Apollo 16).

Documentary's title[edit]

The title comes from President John F. Kennedy's Address to Rice University on the Nation's Space Effort, 12 September, 1962, but is slightly altered from "for all people" to "for all mankind":[2]

"The exploration of space will go ahead, whether we join it or not, and it is one of the greatest adventures of all time... We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for all people... We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard...".[2]

The phrase was altered in the film's audio of Kennedy's speech as well. The director dubbed in "mankind" from a different Kennedy speech.

The term 'for all mankind' also appears on the lunar plaque left by the Apollo 11 astronauts:

"Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon, July 1969 AD. We came in peace for all mankind."

Specific views[edit]

Several unusual or memorable views are included:

  • The fires of the Bedouin tribes in the Sahara desert, seen as dots of light in the extreme darkness.
  • Sunrise over the edge of the Earth.
  • A space-walk floating in silence over the Earth, despite travelling at 25,000 miles per hour.
  • A floating tape recorder providing music to the astronauts during periods of weightlessness... in particular when playing the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey.
  • The first picture of the Earth seen as a whole circle from space "floating in a blackness beyond perception".
  • Trying to prevent food from floating off during meals.
  • The first close-up pictures of the Moon.
  • Travelling around the far side of the Moon, including the "Earth-rise" as our planet came back into view.
  • The lunar module calmly drifting down at a low angle to the surface of the Moon, then burning its engines for a more vertical landing.
  • Touchdown in the Sea of Tranquility: "The Eagle has landed."
  • The first footstep onto the Moon by Neil Armstrong.
  • Dropping a feather and a hammer together on the Moon to prove Galileo correct, that both hit the ground together if there is no atmosphere.
  • Erecting the Stars and Stripes on the surface of the Moon.
  • Gathering rocks and soil samples from the surface of the Moon.
  • An astronaut tripping and speculating on his vulnerability should the suit be ruptured.

Source material[edit]

In the DVD commentary, Al Reinert explains that he made the film after learning that huge amounts of footage shot by astronauts had been archived by NASA without ever being seen by the public. Reinert and editor Susan Korda sifted through six million feet of film footage, and 80 hours of NASA interviews to create the documentary.

Reinert also explains that although the documentary purports to show a single moon mission, it is in fact a collage of footage from all six successful Apollo lunar landing missions. Furthermore, some images are presented out of context: the images of rocket stage separation are test footage shot during earlier missions; a shot used to represent Trans Lunar Injection is in fact footage of a Gemini mission re-entry; and some images of a spacewalk are from an earlier Gemini mission, not Apollo.


For All Mankind has been released by The Criterion Collection on DVD-video disc and Blu-ray Disc.[3]

The title features a commentary track by director Al Reinert and Eugene A. Cernan, commander of Apollo 17. The Blu-ray version also has "behind the scenes" footage, explaining the artistic concept and how original NASA footage was selected for the film.

The title has two subtitle tracks. The first shows the name of a mission and the name of a person shown on the screen. The second subtitle track contains traditional subtitles for the hard-of-hearing, specifying the name of the person doing the narration.


The film's score was written, produced, and performed by Brian Eno, his brother Roger and Daniel Lanois.[4] It was released as an album entitled Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks. By the time of the film's release in 1989, some of the album tracks had been replaced by other pieces by Eno and other artists. These additional tracks can be found on the album Music for Films III.

Awards and nominations[edit]

For All Mankind was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary in 1990.[5]

At 1989 Sundance Film Festival, For All Mankind won both the Grand Jury Prize Documentary and Audience Award Documentary.

The documentary won the International Documentary Association's Best Feature Award in 1989.[6]


  1. ^ "For All Mankind DVD review". Den of Geek. Retrieved 16 August 2018. 
  2. ^ a b "NASA: Address at Rice University on the Nation's Space Effort". NASA. Retrieved 16 August 2018. 
  3. ^ "For All Mankind (1989) - The Criterion Collection". The Criterion Collection. Retrieved July 27, 2015. 
  4. ^ Prendergast, Mark (2000). The Ambient Century: From Mahler to Trance – the Evolution of Sound in the Electronic Age. Bloomsbury Publishing, New York. p. 125. ISBN 1-58234-134-6. 
  5. ^ "THE 62ND ACADEMY AWARDS - 1990". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 16 August 2018. 
  6. ^ "IDA Documentary Awards History". International Documentary Awards. Retrieved 16 August 2018. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Beirut: The Last Home Movie
Sundance Grand Jury Prize: Documentary
Succeeded by
H-2 Worker