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USA 1989
Directed by
Al Reinert
80 minutes
Rated G

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

For All Mankind

The title of this documentary about America's trip to the moon stems from an oration that President John F. Kennedy gave at Rice University on September 12, 1962, a mere three weeks after Alan Shepherd became the first American into space.

In actuality Kennedy said that the NASA program was "for the progress of all people." Director Al Reinert decided to splice President Kennedy's words, dubbing "mankind" over "people," using a part of the President's speech earlier on in his address. A similar creative license affects the whole film, which although appearing to be a single moon flight is in fact a clever splicing together of footage from nine Apollo missions undertaken between 1968 and 1972, results in a seductively elegant outcome although one which is sometimes confusing (as the personnel keeps changing) and will probably fuel the fires of sceptics who believe that the whole moon-landing thing was faked by NASA.

One sure as hell cannot help but wonder how NASA got such extraordinary footage and who shot it (who, for instance, shot the footage, complete a well-framed zoom-out of the lunar module blasting off the Moon on its return journey, a cleverly positioned robot?. Reinert admits to faking one shot, that of the moon appearing in the window of the capsule but that's it). With a nod to 2001: A Space Odyssey in the well-chosen soundtrack, voice-overs that includes twelve of the Apollo astronauts describing their experiences and some out-of-this world (ho ho) cinematography For All Mankind is a jaw-dropping experience, a paean to The American Dream made all the more intriguing for the many  questions hanging over its veracity. 




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