Twenty years after its original release, Al Reinert’s awe inspiring film For All Mankind was released once again on 16th November 2009; this time with a Dolby 5.1 soundtrack and a new, restored, high definition picture. This mesmerizing DVD is special because it is not science fiction, but science fact. This is real footage shot by the heroes themselves as they left Earth, and ventured to the Moon.
During the Apollo lunar missions between 1968 and 1972 all of those on board were given 16mm cameras and asked to film everything they saw, in space and on the surface of the moon. 20 years later Al Reinert went through the NASA vaults and created this magical 80 minute film following their journey. The film plays out like one team’s trip to the Moon and back, and is nothing short of incredible.
Of course, this footage is not always crystal clear, and the film is far from action packed — there are no aliens, crashes, disasters, or anything particularly eventful. Apart, that is, from Neil Armstrong’s first step onto the surface of the Moon, which of course, we’ve all seen before.
What For All Mankind does have though, is humanity. It shows us that the astronauts were not just official, sensible men running the missions like a military operation, but rather they were everyday, ordinary people, who just happened to be given a fantastic opportunity and had the courage to take the risk and grab that opportunity with both hands. Whilst they were obviously focused on the task in hand, the way the film shows their excitement and awe as they encounter zero gravity, and their total wonder at the image of the Earth in the distance, is very heart-warming. To highlight this aspect, there is a fantastically funny few minutes when the astronauts skip and bunny-hop on the surface of the Moon, humming and singing as they go, falling and frolicking around with seemingly no regard for the fact that if they tear their suits they’re in a world of trouble!
This film is a gentle, slow paced journey where the viewer can witness the weird and wonderful surroundings that these brave explorers witnessed. Steadfastly narrated by the astronauts themselves, they tell us how they felt at being so far away from home, and what the mission meant to them.
If you are not looking for an action packed Hollywood adventure, but would rather see a sometimes tense, always magical, hypnotic journey to the Moon and back, you could do much worse than For All Mankind.