Home » Apollo 11 review – A Mesmerising Odyssey | Sundance London 2019

Apollo 11 review – A Mesmerising Odyssey | Sundance London 2019

by Ben Rolph

The first part of the film I found myself asking, is this real? Was the footage new? The vibrance and restoration of these never-seen-before shots are startlingly beautiful and unlike any documentary footage I’ve seen. There is a lack of traditional documentary technique, Apollo 11 is almost entirely using found-footage and reminds of Asif Kapadia’s now infamous style. There is a sense of poetry in the fluidity in which the film progresses, as it charts the build up to the first man on the moon.

There is an underlying sense of terror and wonder as you feast your eyes upon the spectacle of space. The distance traveled creates fear and anxiety, as we embark on the mission predominantly through the perspective of Armstrong and his men. Although you know the course of history, the uncertainty felt is a testament to the film’s direction.


Never-before-seen footage and recordings of America’s historic mission to the moon. The first man and his crew set their sites to venture into the empty void of space. The footage takes you straight into the heart of NASA’s most celebrated mission as astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.

The crowds watch and the world awaits, as Apollo 11 embarks on man’s greatest journey. It is seeing the crowds of fearful yet excited people in the beautiful wide-angle-lenses that broadens the scope of our emotional connection. The use of NASA’s uncatalogued  wide-format footage and the engineering 70mm footage of Apollo 11 taking off allowed for a cinematic experience that no other documentary has ever done. Additionally, they had access to over eleven thousand hours of audio recordings from mission control on 1-inch tape. At times, like the remarkable 70mm footage, I began to question whether the audio heard was truly coming from the people I was seeing.


The film is a grand exercise in editing, with the syncing of audio to sound and the charting of Apollo 11’s journey in a linear manner, Miller and his team show off great skill. Although at times the film does drag a little, perhaps a portion of the edit could’ve been slimmed down. However, the film for the most part paces well and is naturally a marvel to look at.

It is a unique experience that highlights the sheer scope of Apollo 11’s importance, the film is so humble in its portrayal to its material, you feel like it was shot for this documentary. There is also something so human in its inherent admiration for the subject that truly calls out to you.

4/5 Stars ★★★★

Ben Rolph



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