A movie to make you — yes! — proud to be an American

If they can put a man on the moon, why can’t they make a fascinating, efficient documentary about America’s race to its only natural satellite? Actually, they have: In just 90 minutes, In the Shadow of the Moon (directed by Nova producer David Sington) captures the drama, the awe, and, yes, the patriotism of humanity’s first visit to extraterrestrial terrain.

Combining extensive archival footage with new interviews of most of the surviving astronauts who participated in lunar landings (the reclusive Neil Armstrong, as ever, sat this out), the film has no trouble recounting the difficulty and danger of the original Apollo 11 mission. But its success is in conveying how the achievement united the country and the planet during an era of radical uncertainty — a seemingly unrepeatable moment when the world could briefly forget about injustice and war, and appreciate an awesome technological and human triumph.

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