Skip

For All Mankind
April 7, 2011 6:10 PM   Subscribe

For All Mankind "Al Reinert’s documentary For All Mankind is the story of the twenty-four men who traveled to the moon, told in their words, in their voices, using the images of their experiences. Forty years after the first moon landing, it remains the most radical, visually dazzling work of cinema yet made about this earthshaking event." "For All Mankind is irreplaceable: one of a kind and likely to remain so. It is, formally, among the most radical American films of the past quarter century and, emotionally, among the most powerfully affecting. It makes its impossible title stick. In For All Mankind, we all lift off together, and we all come home the same way, and few movies have captured so well the rhapsodic absurdity of our common voyage." 1 :: 2 :: 3 :: 4 :: 5 :: 6 :: 7 :: 8
posted by puny human (35 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite

 
We chose to see this at the Cinerama Dome back then and do the other things before, which enhanced the experience, not because they were easy but because they were awesome.

The apex of USAian achievement. We didn't know it then. We didn't know it in 1989 when this was made. But we know it now.
posted by notyou at 6:26 PM on April 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Love this, and the behind the scenes NASA footage. I had an Airfix Saturn V when I was growing up, it was awesome.
posted by carter at 6:28 PM on April 7, 2011


Oh man do I ever love this movie. YouTube does not do it justice.

It doesn't work out of context, because it's the climax of the whole launch sequence, but that moment at 1:41 in part 2 sends a shiver down my spine. Probably my favorite single moment in any movie, and it was captured completely accidentally.
posted by twirlip at 6:30 PM on April 7, 2011


The apex of USAian achievement. We didn't know it then.

When you think about what they were doing, with the technology they had at the time, and the unknowns, it's completely amazing.
posted by carter at 6:34 PM on April 7, 2011


I LOVE this movie. I need to buy the DVD and watch it on my big-ass TV.
posted by briank at 6:35 PM on April 7, 2011


And the soundtrack is some of Brian Eno's best work.
posted by rikschell at 6:37 PM on April 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Panama Canal, Empire State Building, Hollywood's Golden Age, jazz music, the defeat of Nazi Germany, moon shot, the Internet... we had a pretty good century there.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 6:38 PM on April 7, 2011


As I sift through the ashes, prying gold teeth from skulls and hoping to find potable water, I will mutter, "We put a man on the moon."

And the coyotes will laugh as the vultures circle in a narrowing gyre.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 6:41 PM on April 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


It's on Hulu.
posted by flamk at 6:42 PM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wish Rafferty had stayed on at the New Yorker as part time movie reviewer. He is much more interesting writer than Denby.

I thought this was an excellent observation-- "In a sense, though, the best joke embedded in Reinert’s bold we’re-all-going-to-the-moon-together approach is that, like the Apollo program itself, it achieves by American means something that our space-race competitor of the sixties, the Soviet Union, might have appeared better equipped to do. In the vastly complex communal enterprise of sending men to the moon (and getting them back), the individualist society somehow managed to outperform the collectivist state. And in For All Mankind, Al Reinert, from Texas, fulfills the dream of the great Soviet film artists of the silent era, the dream of Eisenstein, of Pudovkin, of Dovzhenko, of Vertov: to tell a story with a truly collective hero."
posted by puny human at 6:50 PM on April 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


When you think about what they were doing, with the technology they had at the time, and the unknowns, it's completely amazing.

Been reading a lot of books about Apollo lately, both by astronauts and by flight directors and anyone who had anything do with the program. It's a huge list.

What it took to get everything working right, from the training, to political battles, to the personalities of the astronauts and administraters to the hardware and software is just amazing. It's a wonder the program was so successful and understandable that Apollo 1 and 13 due to the most tedious of human errors.

Bob Gilruth, head of NASA, kinda wanted to quit going to the moon after Apollo 12 or so, and stick to low earth orbit. He knew it was just a matter of time before they somebody got killed in space or the moon.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:53 PM on April 7, 2011


Yeah, Rafferty's essay is excellent. This, for example, precisely captures what's so great about the movie (and I, for one, would never have been able to articulate it this well):

"If there's anything educational about this, it's in the nineteenth-century sense of 'sentimental education'—the cultivation of feeling, the learning of the deep knowledge borne by the senses. ... For despite the daunting technical complexity of the Apollo program, despite the decidedly mixed political motives that set it in motion and the financial motives that helped keep it going, the human emotions and sensations this movie takes pains to reveal (and convey to the viewer) are basic, unadulterated, all but primitive—this great effort of will producing, in the spacemen themselves, feelings that are spontaneous, unmediated, innocent of will."
posted by twirlip at 7:15 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I hate that this post makes me think of expensive jeans.
posted by limeonaire at 7:21 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


In the vastly complex communal enterprise of sending men to the moon (and getting them back), the individualist society somehow managed to outperform the collectivist state.

I don't really understand this. It was a government program. Yes, a lot of parts were produced by private companies (e.g. the Saturn V was made by Boeing, North American Aviation, and Douglas), but those companies largely depended (and still depend) on government contracts. The US economic and political structure was better than the Soviet one, but the moon landings were not some great victory for rugged individualism.

For further evidence of the superiority of government-run space programs, one may note the conspicuous absence of privately organized moon landings. Heck, it was 43 years from Gagarin to SpaceShipOne, and even that's not really comparable. SpaceShipTwo (which still isn't truly comparable) will fly this year at the earliest, so that's a full 50 year gap between public and private manned spaceflight.
posted by jedicus at 7:23 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't really understand this.

It's someone looking at reality and twisting it to fit into an already formulated world view.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:26 PM on April 7, 2011


Hello!
posted by forallmankind at 7:42 PM on April 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


Damn, I have this record - Roger Eno, "Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks". I never ever saw the movie it was attached to, thanks much for this post. The movie and the music both bring back my ten-year-old feelings of wonder that there were guys in a tiny metal can traveling to the moon. Somewhere in the mess of my old scrapbooks and journals is a special newspaper insert, 1968, with the first full color images of Neil Armstrong standing on the moon. At that time -everyone- would stay home to watch the news and see what was happening with the astronauts. The pictures of how -blue- the earth is were surprising to me; it had been mostly depicted as green before Apollo.
posted by jet_silver at 7:46 PM on April 7, 2011


Just finished watching the movie, for the first time. It's wonderful film, but it also makes me uncomfortable. It glosses over a lot of events and information and the mixing up of footage and crews, even throwing in stuff from Gemini, reduces the program to a single starry eyed vision. Sure, it also elevates, by focusing on the wonder and personal thoughts of the astronauts, yet it still feels hollow, despite the wonderfully evocative manipulation.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:02 PM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


When you think about what they were doing, with the technology they had at the time, and the unknowns, it's completely amazing.

Stunning where you can get to when you're not succumbing to hysteria about "terrists" and brown people and gay marriage.
posted by orthogonality at 8:23 PM on April 7, 2011


Stunning where you can get to when you're not succumbing to hysteria about "terrists" and brown people and gay marriage.

Clear evidence that hysteria about Communists just works better, eh?
posted by brennen at 8:35 PM on April 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


I love this movie.

I first saw it when it came out in a small theater in Seattle, and was just staggered. At the time I was about three years into a job making films and videos for The Boeing Airplane company. And this film hit pretty much everyone in the studio with a thud to the sternum.

For a bunch of paid film geeks AND plane geeks, this was a dead-on bullseye.

It holds up remarkably well, and to this day I use the film as a nice generic answer to the question: "Why should we even have a space program?"
posted by Relay at 9:07 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Stunning where you can get to when you're not succumbing to hysteria about "terrists" and brown people and gay marriage."

This is such a ridiculous comment. As if the '60s were such a tranquil period in American politics. Vietnam, race riots, Bay of Pigs, The 6 Day War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the counterculture, etc...
What are you even talking about?
posted by puny human at 9:20 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


This DVD, and Yellow Submarine are two of main my comfort discs. The finest hour of my species, those Apollo missions, I'm so grateful that I was lucky enough to be alive to see this stuff...
posted by dbiedny at 9:29 PM on April 7, 2011


Great post, though I'd recommend the Hulu version linked by flamk, as it's a Criterion DVD transfer (albeit with some commercials), while the YouTube version appears to be a fairly poor VHS transfer.

I'm a huge fan of the early space program, and will readily gobble up any and all books or movies about the subject. My one regret is that I never knew the world before Man landed on the moon. We can sit here and marvel about how amazing it was that they/we did it, but it must have been simply awe-inspiring to experience the moment when Mankind flipped the switch between the pre- and post- Moon landing eras.
posted by ShutterBun at 10:41 PM on April 7, 2011


it must have been simply awe-inspiring to experience the moment when Mankind flipped the switch between the pre- and post- Moon landing eras.

You're absolutely right...I was 6-1/2, but I still remember it well. It was after 10pm Eastern Time when Armstrong stepped onto the surface, and it might have been the latest I was allowed to stay up for a number of years. I still have my scrapbook of Apollo articles. I had a similar feeling watching the Viking Mars landing seven years later to the day.

Thanks for the posting; I had sort of forgotten about this movie and the soundtrack.

Another movie I'd recommend is In the Shadow of the Moon, which came out a few years ago.
posted by foonly at 11:03 PM on April 7, 2011


Somewhere in the mess of my old scrapbooks and journals is a special newspaper insert, 1968, with the first full color images of Neil Armstrong standing on the moon. posted by jet_silver

Now THAT would be impressive!

Actually, despite the typo, this is still factually incorrect. All of the color photos taken on the moon during Apollo 11 are of Buzz Aldrin, taken by Neil (though you can see his reflection in Buzz's helmet in a couple of shots)

There is a great subplot in the Apollo 12 segment of "From The Earth To The Moon" which depicts Pete Conrad and Alan Bean smuggling an automatic camera timer in their gear, so that they could get a photo of both of them together, much to the bewilderment of the folks back on earth. Had they pulled it off, it would have been epic.
posted by ShutterBun at 11:13 PM on April 7, 2011


As if the '60s were such a tranquil period in American politics.

Not my point. It wasn't that the '60s were tranquil, it's that we weren't a bunch of pussies, subjecting ourselves to molestation patdowns.
posted by orthogonality at 11:19 PM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Great post, though I'd recommend the Hulu version linked by flamk, as it's a Criterion DVD transfer (albeit with some commercials), while the YouTube version appears to be a fairly poor VHS transfer.

In YouTube's favor, it does give you that 1960's broadcast TV vibe!
posted by fairmettle at 2:43 AM on April 8, 2011


Not my point. It wasn't that the '60s were tranquil, it's that we weren't a bunch of pussies, subjecting ourselves to molestation patdowns.

What specifically are you talking about? What is a "molestation patdown" and what does that have to with the NASA of the '60s vs the NASA of today?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:37 AM on April 8, 2011


I was 6-1/2, but I still remember it well.

Hah, I was seven and in the UK, and my dad got me up after midnight to watch this, Because It Was Important. I'm so glad that he did.
posted by carter at 6:45 AM on April 8, 2011


Great post. Thank you.
posted by zarq at 7:38 AM on April 8, 2011


Yeah, Rafferty's essay is excellent.

What's this in reference to? Was a comment with a link deleted?
posted by Rash at 9:30 AM on April 8, 2011


Even if you don't watch the movie, you owe it to yourself to check out the soundtrack. Some of Eno's best work, in my opinion.
posted by word_virus at 9:31 AM on April 8, 2011


Oops, sorry -- the comment about the New Yorker had me confused.
posted by Rash at 9:31 AM on April 8, 2011


There is also an accompanying book by Harry Hurt III. The reviews are terrible but I read it and I have to say I rather enjoyed it because it has so many interviews with the Apollo astronauts. It suffers from factual errors on some points. Clearly a good editor could have really cleaned it up. But the factual errors are so obvious in some cases that you can read past them like you read past a misspelling - if you know what I mean?

I like the movie but have a tough time with the way it juggles some of the images you see with the time frame of events. Such as the space walk they show leads you to believe they did a space walk on the Apollo mission to the moon! It takes more of a poetic approach rather than a straight factual one.
posted by Rashomon at 4:16 PM on April 8, 2011


« Older A world in glorious black and white.   |   Congratulations on coming to... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post