July 20–21, 2019

Fly Me to the Moon: Apollo 11’s 50th Anniversary

Okay, sure, the whole race-to-the-Moon thing, the seemingly limitless funding available to NASA, was driven by the politics of the Cold War. And, yes, all that gendered language—first man on the Moon, for all mankind, etc.—sounds jarring to woke 21st-century ears. But, still, it was a really, really big deal—and the whole world stopped what it was doing and marvelled—when, fifty years ago, on July 20, 1969 (or July 21, depending on your time zone), an American astronaut, Neil Alden Armstrong, became the first, uh, person to walk on the Moon. And did so just eight years after JFK, in a famous 1961 speech—when the Americans, unlike their Soviet rivals, had yet to even put a person in orbit—proposed committing the U.S. to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.” No sweat, right? 

Heck, back in 1969, everyone thought there’d be all-inclusive resorts on Mars by now. Or, at least, as per Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, Pan Am fights to Luna! (That airline, now long defunct, was, by the mid 1960s, already taking reservations for future passenger service to the Moon.) Instead, there were only a handful of other lunar landings, the last in 1972. And no human being has been anywhere near the Moon, or even left Earth’s orbit, in almost half a century. Nobody would’ve believed that, if you’d told em, in those heady, moony days back in the Summer of 69. So, these fifty years on, let us be moonstruck anew at an accomplishment as daringly difficult and dangerous as it was dauntingly expensive—an accomplishment especially well suited, as demonstrated by the three notable films (two documentaries and a feature) screening here, to big-screen cinematic spectacle. Beam me up, Elon Musk!

List of Programmed Films

Date Film Title Director(s) Year Country
2019-Jul For All Mankind Al Reinert 1989 USA
2019-Jul First Man Damien Chazelle 2018 USA
2019-Jul Apollo 11 Todd Douglas Miller 2019 USA