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For All Mankind [Blu-ray]
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In July 1969, the space race ended when Apollo 11 fulfilled President Kennedy’s challenge of “landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.” No one who witnessed the lunar landing will ever forget it. 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 later, it remains the most radical, visually dazzling work of cinema yet made about this earth-shaking event
A Special Message from Jonathon Turell, Criterion CEO
I was nine when the Apollo 11 Eagle landed on the moon. I remember vividly watching it on a small black-and-white TV at sleepaway camp that summer of 1969. I’ve been hooked on the space program ever since. Just about twenty years ago, a friend told me he had seen a rough cut of a new space movie and I should see it. I got a tape and watched For All Mankind for the first time. It was unlike anything I had seen before, and I knew that I wanted to be a part of it. I met Al Reinert and we became friends. Janus Films helped to finish the film, and I became an associate producer as we completed the movie. For All Mankind was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary—losing out to Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt. It played festivals around the world. There was a special screening for NASA and the astronauts in Galveston, Texas, and the film showed at the Air and Space Museum at the celebration of the twentieth anniversary of the moon landing.
We started working on the laserdisc release of For All Mankind before the film was complete, and I traveled to Houston to meet Al and interview Apollo 12 astronaut Alan Bean for inclusion on the disc. Bean’s comments were so good that Al recut the film to include a wonderful story about piloting the lunar module in orbit around moon. Meeting one of the astronauts who walked on the moon is still one of the greatest thrills of my life. Last year, when we began working on our Blu-ray release of For All Mankind, we got in touch with Bean again and asked him to participate. He happily agreed to update the feature on his paintings and also to sit down and talk with us about a subject I had become very interested in—science versus art. I wanted to explore the question of whether the astronauts (or the people at NASA) realized they were shooting some of the most artistic images ever recorded (and now some of the most famous) or if it was really all about moon rocks and beating the Russians. This second meeting with Bean didn’t disappoint; he says some wonderful things that are included on the disc. When we finished taping our interview session, he gave me a ride to lunch. The famous Apollo 12 Corvette is gone, replaced by a truck to carry his paintings, but that ten-minute ride will stay with me forever. He talked about walking on the moon; I talked about what movies I like. It didn’t seem quite parallel—for him it was an interesting conversation, for me, it was an audience with a hero.
Over the years, I think I’ve seen every film and TV miniseries about the Apollo program (at least twice), but for me For All Mankind still stands apart. It is unique in its poetic approach and ability to capture the pure emotion of the greatest journey of our time.
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Top Customer Reviews
This film is a documentary and is well compiled. Consisting almost entirely of stock footage of the missions, it has audio interviews with the astronauts and mission control technicians.
The film has a superb score by Brian Eno. One particular piece of music in the film, also heard on the main menu of the DVD has been resued for two other films: Traffic (2000) and 28 Days Later(2002).
Much of the footage taken in space is high resolution and very well preserved as it was stored at the NASA film archives in liquid nitrogen.
The special features on the DVD are audio commentary by the Director Al Reinart and Apollo 17 astronaut Gene Cernan. There is subtitle identification of the astronauts and NASA employees when they appear on screen. There are Audio and Video highlights from several NASA missions. My favorite is the soundbyte of the apollo 8 astronauts when they gave a radio address by reading parts of the Bible on Christmas day.
There are also paintings by Apollo 12 astronaut Alan Bean and interviews with him describing some of his paintings.
For anybody interested in the space program, this DVD is a musy buy!
The voiceover narration (no talking heads) is done by the astronauts themselves but we never know who the astronaut is that is talking and whether than correlates to the astronaut we see on screen let alone the mission. You'd think that would matter. It doesn't.
The only part I found dragged was the footage on the moon. After you've seen one crater or moon walk you pretty much have seen them all.
The extras are really good with now some talking heads interview outtakes with 15 of the astronauts. Other extras are on Astronaut Alan Bean's moon artwork, a collection of classic NASA audio clips ("Houston, the Eagle has landed," etc.), a series of video on various NASA rocket launches plus you get a nice glossy booklet with the whole thing.
Now, if you are looking for a DVD that covers each Apollo mission chronologically, this is not it. This is an actual feature film type presentation.
What makes this unique is that it allows the knowledgable/obsessed Apollo fan the opportunity to look at these early images of Apollo (and Gemini) footage from the perspective of an artist. Though the film of Ed White's EVA has come under scrutiny due to the fact that it was before Apollo, yet the footage has been enhanced so that it looks sharper and clearer than the original. The footage that has been pieced together contains images that are obscure and commentary that is rare and personal, reflecting the personalities of the men who made these remarkable voyages. It is truly a delight to hear of Pete Conrad's explanation of why he made his "historic" first words when he became the third man on the moon, or to hear Charlie Duke sharing his dream that he had while on the lunar surface.
Al Reinhardt is a dramatic director, not a documentary director and this is evident in this work. Apollo buffs are probably aware that he directed two episodes for the HBO miniseries, "From the Earth to the Moon," depicting the Apollo 8 and Apollo 11 missions. I believe that this is a must see series for the space enthusiast as well, for this miniseries depicts the Apollo program at its worst and best, the men and women who made it happen and does so in the best movie traditions.Read more ›
Yes, the cinematography is great, but it is certainly no better than other commonly available documentaries, as it is after all almost 100 percent 30 year old NASA footage, which is largely common to all the available documentaries.
I do grasp the concept of artistic license, but my issue here is that Reinert takes license when there is nothing to be gained. The most obnoxious single moment for me is the Apollo 13 'Houston, We've had a problem..." audio, which has added sound effects not found in the original (common through the film) and edits bits of the Apollo 13 dialogue together with the Apollo 12 lightning strike problems during launch, which in his mind, I suppose added drama, but in my mind distorts the truth and fails to tell the story of either of the two emergencies well. When unnecessary compilation and editing like this continues through the film it makes for a very muddled, less factual, film that the materiel deserves.
Some reviewers have praised the film for conveying the 'feeling' of going to the moon well. I don't really dispute that, I just think that a documentary can be factually accurate and have information accurately presented (like in the Nova special) and still be captivating. In fact I think it would be more captivating.
The DVD does have some strong points, that are unique though.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
...read the reviews with interest - but frankly I was gutted to discover that Criterion have 'mutilated' this superb doc by messing with the original score/arrangements. Read morePublished on July 9 2004 by Bill Andrews
One day in the USA there will be a revolution in entertainment. At that time we'll discover how good it feels actually to use our brains for something other than passive,... Read morePublished on Nov. 14 2003 by Allan M. Lees
I got the feeling and floated through space watching the DVD the first time. If you want to know the astronauts and other informations, just listen to the audio-commentary and turn... Read morePublished on Sept. 10 2003
I usually don't read other reviews when giving my own but decided to thumb through to make certain that I had not reviewed this before. Read morePublished on Sept. 5 2003 by FrontPage
This dvd MUST be watched with headphones on to enjoy the full impact of the blend between Brian Eno's space music score and the stunning video footage. Read morePublished on June 20 2003 by Jimmy
I have long been a fan of the U.S. space program. I think it is a very noble endeavor. As far as the public goes, we may be amazed at the technical achievements of the space... Read morePublished on March 31 2003
Some have dubiously criticized "For All Mankind" for being inaccurate, because it's a pastiche of footage from different NASA missions (mostly Apollo) edited together as... Read morePublished on Jan. 30 2003
I have to STRONGLY disagree with the person who gave this 3 stars. That was far too picky. Yes, the footage is not in true chronological order. Read morePublished on Nov. 8 2002