Only a few seconds into Apollo 11, you realize that this is unlike any documentary you’ve ever seen. In crystal-clear, breathtaking detail, NASA’s crawler-transporter—a veritable city on wheels—lumbers across the screen, herding the mighty Saturn V rocket to its launch site. A few weeks later, that rocket sends three American astronauts barreling toward the moon.
You know the story, but you’ve never seen it like this.
Comprised entirely of archival footage that’s never before been released to the public, Apollo 11, now in theaters, tells the story of the first moon landing as if it were a Hollywood thriller. There are no interviews with the subjects, no heavy-handed narration. There are only the sounds and images of the occasion—stunning and immediate, despite being a half-century old. A mostly electronic score pulses in the background, as the determined faces of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins fill the screen.