- Actors: Jim Lovell, Kenneth Mattingly, Russell Schweickart, Eugene Cernan, Michael Collins
- Directors: Al Reinert
- Producers: Al Reinert, Ben Young Mason, Betsy Broyles Breier, David W. Leitner, Fred Miller
- Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, Full Screen, Special Edition, Widescreen, NTSC
- Language: English
- Region: Region A/1
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Number of discs: 1
- MPAA Rating:
- Studio: Criterion
- Release Date: July 14 2009
- Run Time: 80 minutes
- Average Customer Review: 51 customer reviews
- ASIN: B0026VBOIS
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #11,748 in Movies & TV Shows (See Top 100 in Movies & TV Shows)
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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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.
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!
Reinert also wanted to use a generic approach instead of muddling everything up with astronaut identifications (which is actually an option in the subtitles) that might have turned 79 minutes of enjoyment into a technical approach that takes away from the FEELING of the race to the Moon. And all the astronauts, Reinert said, had no problem with that decision. There are enough documentaries and docudramas out there. In my opinion, the intent of this film was simply to place the majority of the world into the cockpit or LEM, buckle that seatbelt and enjoy the ride, since 99.99% or more of us don't have the opportunity to even ride supersonic, let alone even fly into space or even experience zero gravity.
The joy in watching FAM was in how Reinert simply found a way to let us feel the anticipation and drama of preparing for these trips "and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard," as President John F. Kennedy says in his Rice University speech. The quotes that Reinert lifted from the speech empowered the rest of the movie, that Reinert combined the different missions to create a display of a generic preparation- to- splashdown film.
It's such a long journey from Earth orbit to the lunar surface, and in that time, there's so much time to wait. In the way Reinert edited his movie (note that he NEVER said it's a documentary), he did a wonderful job of showing the down time that an astronaut had during that journey. Pop on the optional track where Reinert and astronaut Gene Cernan discuss the projects (the movie and Moon race project) to an even finer detail to get the most out of this DVD.
The package deserves 5 stars in my opinion. There was nothing that I didn't like, except that it wasn't longer. I first knew of FAM while surfing local channels and saw this great piece with a fresh musical track accompanying it. I taped what I could and held on to the hopes of this appearing in a digital format. What also sold me was the musical score by Brian Eno. He has a way of making music sound timeless, and the score he created still sounds just as fresh.
The folks at Criterion did a marvelous job to deliver a great DVD package (details below), and I wouldn't hesitate to purchase this again.
For those who harp about not knowing who is talking or who is being shown in the movie, the DVD has options to see who is speaking through the subtitles. Another set of subtitles is presented as an option to view simply who is on the screen at the time. I did not get this to view manned space exploration in chronological order (you can get this by viewing the Spacecraft Films series of Apollo, Gemini and the Saturns which have none of the excitement and human interest that FAM does). I just wanted a fresh view of the journey to the Moon, and Reinert delivered exceptionally well, in my opinion.
Technical details: 79 minutes in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.33:1; digital transfer from a 35mm print from original NASA stock footage; original mono track was digitally prepared and output as Dolby Digital 5.1 stereo; optional audio commentary by Reinert and Gene Cernan, Apollo 17 commander; paintings with audio commentary by Apollo/ Skylab astronaut and artist Alan Bean; liftoff audio and film footage from NASA; English subtitles with astronaut identifications; onscreen identifications of President Kennedy, astronauts and key NASA mission control specialists; DVD box says this is an RSDL dual- layer edition, also; 3- page, C- folding pamphlet with Apollo astronaut IDs, production credits and foreword by Reinert.
PS- One piece of stock footage that is recognizable is during staging when one of the rocket's rings is ejected. You know it, the ring floats off with flames inside it? It's incredible to see what the camera inside the ring shows, and Reinert describes in his comments how the footage is actually shot and recovered.
This DVD is a melange of clips from Apollo VIII onwards, strung together as though it were all one disjointed mission. The footage itself is of course incredibly beautiful but there is a paucity of intellectual content. Very little information, less explanation of history and context, and ultimately it's junk food for the mind.
With the footage available a really interesting and profound video could have been assembled. But until the revolution we'll just have to get along with this "turn off your brain and open your mouth" prettiness.
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