For All Mankind

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For All Mankind
Film poster
Directed byAl Reinert
Produced byBetsy Broyles Breier
Al Reinert
Ben Young Mason
Fred Miller
Music byBrian Eno
Roger Eno
Daniel Lanois
Edited bySusan Korda
Distributed byApollo Associates
Release date
  • November 1, 1989 (1989-11-01) (U.S.)
Running time
80 minutes
CountryUnited States

For All Mankind is a 1989 documentary film drawn from original footage of NASA's Apollo program which successfully landed the first humans on the Moon from 1969 to 1972. It was directed by Al Reinert with music by Brian Eno.[1] 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.[2]


Reinert began interviewing (mostly retired and unseen in the film) NASA astronauts in 1976. It was from these interviews that the majority of the voices heard in the documentary appear. The idea for the documentary film began in 1979 after Reinert researched a story about the Apollo program for Texas Monthly and learned that huge amounts of footage shot by astronauts had been archived by NASA without ever being seen by the public.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. Although he initially thought that making a film of the missions would be relatively straightforward it would take ten years before the film was released.

To copy the original films held at the Johnson Space Center, Reinert had to take an optical printer and scan each frame from the original 16mm film and enlarge to 35mm. To get the 80 minutes of film used in the documentary took Reinert 18 months of copying. Reinert also used footage from the Project Gemini including Ed White's spacewalk from Gemini 4, the film of rocket stage separation is test footage shot during earlier missions and a shot used to represent Trans Lunar Injection (TLI) is in fact footage of a Gemini mission re-entry.

Reinert's DVD commentary 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 missions.

An initial release of the film called Apollo had no narration, just the soundtrack and original recordings from the missions. Audience response was lukewarm and Reinert updated the documentary with the interviews he had conducted with the astronauts in the 1970s plus material held in the NASA archives.

The final film included just under 80 minutes of NASA footage. The documentary focuses on the impact of the missions on the astronauts and their experiences as well as some members of mission control.

Thirteen of the original Apollo astronauts were interviewed by Reinert. Among those providing narration are Jim Lovell (Apollo 8 and 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":[3]

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 ....[3]

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, A.D. 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 the 1968 film, 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 "Earthrise" as our planet came back into view.
  • The Apollo 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.
  • David Scott 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.


The original version of the documentary film had no narration, and simply featured 35mm footage of the Apollo moon missions collected together roughly chronologically, and set to Brian Eno's soundtrack as it appears on the album.

Release and reception[edit]

Although the film had a limited theatrical runs at art house cinemas in some US cities, audience response was lukewarm. The filmmakers still felt the film could do better if it reached a wider audience, and so they re-edited the film, added commentaries from the Apollo astronauts and ground crew, re-structured the music, and re-titled the film in the process. Various edits of the film were shown to test audiences for further refining. As all this was going on, the film's release was delayed until 1989.

Home media[edit]

For All Mankind has been released by The Criterion Collection on DVD and Blu-ray Disc.[4]

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 each mission and the name of each person shown on 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 original score was written, produced, and performed by Brian Eno, his brother Roger and Daniel Lanois in 1983 (for a feature-length documentary movie called Apollo, later re-titled For All Mankind).[5] It was released as an album entitled Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks in 1983.[6] 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 Feature in 1990.[7][8]

At 1989 Sundance Film Festival, For All Mankind won both the Grand Jury Prize Documentary and Audience Award Documentary.[9]

The documentary won the International Documentary Association's Best Feature Award in 1989.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ For All Mankind: Is the Moon Landing Cinema? | Brows Held High by KyleKallgrenBBH on YouTube
  2. ^ "For All Mankind DVD review". Den of Geek. Retrieved 16 August 2018.
  3. ^ a b "NASA: Address at Rice University on the Nation's Space Effort". NASA. Retrieved 16 August 2018.
  4. ^ "For All Mankind (1989) - The Criterion Collection". The Criterion Collection. Retrieved July 27, 2015.
  5. ^ "Apollo special: Brian Eno's moon music". New Scientist. Retrieved 16 August 2018.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ "THE 62ND ACADEMY AWARDS - 1990". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 16 August 2018.
  8. ^ Documentary Winners: 1990 Oscars
  9. ^ 1989 Sundance Film Festival
  10. ^ "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