'American Experience: Chasing the Moon' [3-Disc]
(3-Disc DVD / NR / 2019 / PBS)
Overview: 'Chasing the Moon' reimagines the race to the moon for a new generation, upending much of the mythology surrounding the effort.
The series recasts the Space Age as scientific innovation, political calculation, media spectacle, visionary impulses and personal drama.
Utilizing overlooked and lost archival material, the film features a cast of characters who played key roles in these historic events.
DVD Verdict: From the ultra-cool opening sequence, (the graphics, the historic images from the '50s and '60s, to the dramatic music) you just knew that American Experience was about to present us with a dazzling, fact filled and humane adventure. And a thoroughly American adventure at that.
Looking back 50 years ago to all involved on every level these brave, brainy, brilliant Americans were our contemporaries and 'Chasing the Moon' comprehensively covers the history of spaceflight from the closing days of WWII through the Apollo program in a way you've never seen before.
In truth I have always enjoyed documentaries that just lay out the basic facts and avoid sensationalizing actual events. In the case of the 1960's space race between the Russians and Americans both countries faltered which had the most absolute deadliest of consequences.
Astronauts were sacrificed for the space race and wives and children lost their husbands and fathers.
Why I mention the nostalgic approach was LIFE magazine had an exclusive with some of the astronauts of the Apollo missions and we were invited right into the astronauts family homes as the wives and children watched on their black and white television sets the flight missions along side their fellow astronaut families and family parish priests.
What Life magazine provided to the astronauts for this exclusive was a $100 thousand dollar life insurance policy to the astronauts family in case of death in space. This is a bet you would rather LIFE magazine never had to pay out on.
Ergo, this wondrous 'Chasing the Moon' three (3) part documentary series provides exceptional historical coverage of the earliest space missions culminating on the first landing of man on the moon.
I mean, who would have ever thought this was possible even in the year 2020! Am I right?!
The recollections of the astronauts themselves, insights from NASA administrators and engineers, extensive broadcast TV clips and rare NASA footage, an appreciation of the Russian space program, and the politics that empowered these human and technological achievements.
Viewers are transported through the era in a way that allows you to feel that you are there, watching it all unfold live before your very eyes.
To highlight the depth of this series, first, the story is told by participants or those with direct knowledge. The commentary of Khrushchev's son, for example, was to me very interesting. Second, the sideline cultural coverage really works well with the song parody of Von Braun just right.
Again, I grew up during the years of the Space race and can remember first-hand how we as a nation were juggling many social problems, as well chasing the moon.
This beautiful six hour series reflects a well balanced view of how life was during those times and I felt, at times as if I'd traveled back in time along with it. A magnificent piece of work. View it for yourself and prove me wrong. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs with the Bonus Features of:
Making Chasing the Moon: Interview with Robert Stone
Making Chasing the Moon: Behind the Scenes with Film Crew