What would you do with a few hours on the moon? Al Reinart’s 1989 compilation documentary provides an answer from the first men who ever had the opportunity. Real science becomes realized fantasy as we watch and hear actual footage from the first Apollo missions to the moon, and reach the personalities and experiences behind names like Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, and Alan Shepard. A fantastic companion to fictional accounts, like Apollo 13, Reinart’s film uses no omniscient narrator or dramatized reenactments, but rather the astronauts’ own accounts and film recorded aboard the spacecraft or inside mission control—which frankly ends up more telling and more thrilling than any feature filmmaker’s interpretation.
As a one-of-a-kind travelogue, For All Mankind is both successfully educational and pretty entertaining. It seems significant that in such an advanced endeavor as space travel, these sophisticated professionals are at their most child-like—playing with their food in the zero-gravity cabin and collecting rocks like a child on a first trip to the beach. The picture of two giddy astronauts skipping along the dusty surface of the moon communicates humankind’s natural enthusiasm for exploration and the inherent thrill of discovery—principles that a child, whose world is still a wondrous novelty, can readily appreciate.