The weekend just past, I took myself off to the inimitable Odeon Luxe to catch two films in a row: my intention to be out of the house for as long as possible while my boyfriend hosted a games night. If I stayed there, I would have only resorted to either weird-woman-gives-out-crisps-like-someones-mum, or lonely-woman-drinks-wine-in-room-alone. So off I went!
The first of these films was to be Apollo 11, a 93 minute documentary made up entirely of original footage of the 1969 USA moon landing, spanning from literally just before the event up to the safe return to earth.
Apparently, the filmmakers promised they would only use original footage – no exceptions – but they did have to pop in a couple of bits of a different space craft at times. I’m sad that they’re a bunch of dirty promise breakers, but I did while watching find it vaguely implausible that they would have all this very specific footage.
Though this may sound like a relaxing film to enjoy while you’re self-evicted from your own home, others around me had clearly decided this was quite the time to get riled up and there was a whole hoo-hah where one couple complained about another talking. This resulted in the first couple being quietly removed from the screening like ninjas followed by a VERY shouty-whispery Odeon employee coming back to evict the talking-criminals, one of whom shouted ‘you fucking arseholes!’ on his way out. This is why at my future cinema, we shall have bouncers.
All of this happened exactly at the point they were landing on the moon, which was very distracting for me as I really like public drama. I did however manage to share a friendly eye roll with the gentleman next to me, winning him back over after his earlier disapproving look when I pulled a whole bottle of white wine out of my handbag and served myself a glass. I also bring a glass.
I’m not super into space, as a concept. On occasion I have enjoyed winding up my comparatively space-enthusiastic boyfriend by saying things like ‘I just don’t really think space exists? I just can’t relate to it’ and then just repeating that while his brain melts with irritation. I am an absolute joy to live with, honestly.
Saying that, I rather enjoyed this! Having seen First Man earlier in the year, some of this was familiar enough for me to understand, helped by the addition of several graphics which explained some of the elements of the journey to the moon, without being patronising or boring for people who actually do get it already. There’s also the fun addition of quite a lot of footage of the public gathering to watch the rocket take off, which provides us with some fantastic 1969 retro fashion and hairstyles.
The addition of the soundtrack, made only using instruments that were available in 1969, made me all captivated and engrossed at exactly the right times. Despite everyone knowing how the story ends, my heart was still thumping right along with the music when they were heading back to earth.
For the first half an hour, I was not into it. I considered leaving the cinema, but then I would’ve had to wait in the lobby for over an hour before my next film started. Actually, I guess I could’ve just gone to the pub. Regret.
The film is unadorned in any way (apart from the soundtrack), so there’s no talking heads or modern footage to break up the narrative. Though I came to appreciate this by the end, it takes quite a while to get used to, especially considering the start of this film has a pretty slow build up.
An interesting way to spend 90 minutes of your life. Better than sitting in a cinema lobby, even if you’re not a space nerd.