From The Earth To The Moon (HBO) (1998) [DVD]

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earth-coverWhen HBO first launched in the early 1970s it mainly broadcast feature films and sporting events on a regional cable network in Pennsylvania. After expanding nationwide, it wasn’t until the 1990s that it really started augmenting that content with original programming such as The Larry Sanders Show and not until 1999 that the début of The Sopranos completely changed the nature of the company and made it the worldwide brand for cutting-edge, award-winning drama such as Game of Thrones that it is today.

The year before The Sopranos, HBO had a successful trial run with a 12-part mini-series covering the history of the Apollo moon missions, made in association with Imagine Entertainment which went on to produce 24. Based on Andrew Chaikin’s book A Man on the Moon, From The Earth To The Moon won three Emmys including the prestigious award for Outstanding Miniseries. It also picked up the equivalent Golden Globe Award for Best Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for TV. Without this timely critical success for HBO, maybe Tony Soprano would never have made it to air and the history of TV drama in the US (and the world) would have taken a very different turn indeed. Read the rest of this entry »

In The Shadow Of The Moon (2007)

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There’s not really a great deal to say about this Film Four co-production from 2007, which tells the story of the mission to the moon in the 1960s. As a documentary it’s almost aggressively conventional in its presentation, using newly-shot studio interviews with ten of the surviving Apollo astronauts alongside often jaw-dropping archive footage from NASA (as well as from various earth-bound news sources.) Any gaps in the narrative are filled with static captions and the whole thing is set to a gentle orchestrated backing score of the most unobtrusive and unmemorable kind.

shadow-coverFilm maker David Sington doesn’t take any risks with the way the piece is structured, either, sticking firmly to chronological order. There’s no hint of controversy or anything that might mess with the tale of real-life all-American heroes: the Soviet element to the space race is never mentioned; and while there’s an appropriate sober moment of reflection marking the tragedy of Apollo 1, the corresponding drama of Apollo 13 is dealt with very briskly and presented as pretty much NASA’s finest hour in overcoming insurmountable odds. Read the rest of this entry »