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DVD Review

DVD cover

For All Mankind


Eureka Entertainment
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: E
Available 16 November 2009

Heroic deeds happen everyday across the planet, but for the most part these go unrecorded. For the men who threw themselves across space in thin tin cans the world watch on in awe and pride...

For all Mankind (1989 - 1 hr, 20 min, 09 sec) is a documentary about the Apollo missions to the moon, directed by Al Reinert, with original music by Brian Eno. The film covers the missions from 1968 to 1972 and amongst other features narration from Jim Lovell, Michael Collins, Charles Conrad, Jack Swigert, and Ken Mattingly.

The footage is taken from both NASA film and the more personal 16mm films which the astronauts made. Until the release of the film much of the footage had not been seen and was rescued from NASA’s archive. The original eighty hours of footage has been condensed by the director to create a unique experience as told from the perspective of the astronauts themselves.

Although there have been many films about this subject, this is one of the few where the narration is from the people involved, reflecting both their pride at their accomplishments and the fear of the unknown. The film won the 1990 Academy Award for Best Documentary.

The film takes a collage approach to its material, so eagle eyed viewers may notice that some of the shots don’t correspond to what you’re supposed to be seeing. Shots are often chosen for their effect rather than their historical accuracy.

That said it’s still a remarkable film about mans attempts to get into space. Obviously, given the original quality of the film stock, the quality can be a little variable. Grain is evident, but there appears to be little damage to the prints themselves. The picture is often a little soft but the clarity remains high.

The disc does come with some extras. The film has a full length commentary by Al Reinert and astronaut Eugene A. Cernan, which provides a fascinating insight to both the making of the film and the realities of space travel. Next up is Making of: An Accidental Gift (31 min, 58 sec) which looks at how the documentary was constructed. Paintings from the Moon (45 min, 26 sec) which looks at the work of Alan Bean a veteran astronaut turned artist. 3.2.1.Blastoff (2 min, 34 sec) is a short piece basically showing various blastoffs. The last extra is a collection of twenty-one pieces from NASA’s sound archive.

Although a slightly older documentary, this still has the power to tell the story well, a worthy addition to any space aficionado’s collection.


Charles Packer

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