8 Days: To the Moon and Back is a documentary film on eight of the most significant days of Apollo 11, the first manned spaceflight to land on the moon. The documentary is well-made and boasts of good production values.
Its magic is that it has mixed archive footage quite seamlessly with footage shot especially for the documentary and CGI. The shot footage is also edited to give a classic look so the end result is quite coherent in that it is hard to tell either archive or dramatic footage apart.
The enormity of the unfolding events are explained ably through CBS newscasters and the viewer really does get a bit of vicarious thrill. This sense of wonder and the feeling of immersiveness are heightened by beautiful visuals and cinematography. This documentary seems like it was made for the big screen
8 Days to the Moon and Back closely follows, sans any narration, the days leading up to Apollo 11’s journey to the moon and the triumphant journey back. Apollo 11 mission was undertaken when the Cold War was raging on and there was an interminable race between the United States and the Soviet Union that extended to space travel.
The Soviets had launched the first manned spaceflight thanks to Yuri Gagrin’s Vostok 1 in 1961. NASA (which itself was created as an answer to USSR’s Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite in the history of human race) and the US thus wanted to win the race to the moon.
And it did. After a few setbacks, Apollo 11 successfully landed on the surface of the moon. Neil Armstrong became the first human to step foot onto the desolate, atmosphere-less lunar landscape. With him was his senior Buzz Aldrin.
Armstrong described the dust on moon’s surface as “very fine-grained, almost like a powder”. He climbed down off the lunar probe and uttered the now-iconic words, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
8 Days to the Moon and Back is successful in evoking the sense of wonder and awe that must have taken over the world glued to radio transmitters and TV sets. While the documentary does not do anything particularly new and whatever it shows is already common knowledge, there are few documentaries on even such a widely covered event that can match it in terms of production values, presentation and immersiveness.
8 Days to the Moon and Back premieres today at 8 pm on Sony BBC Earth.