In the Shadow of the Moon tells a riveting story, even if we already pretty much know how it ends. A reflection on the '60s space race and the almost insurmountable setbacks NASA conquered to realize President Kennedy's dream of putting a man on the moon, this fascinating documentary features new interviews with nine of the astronauts who flew on the Apollo missions (not surprisingly, the reclusive Neil Armstrong isn't one of the them). Their anecdotes are warm, and their humble amazement at being chosen for such an earth-shattering job is infectious. The file footage is even more impressive. The material filmed by the astronauts themselves while launching, in orbit and on the hostile, craterous moonscape are so well preserved you'd think they were newly produced dramatizations. But those majestic shots of flying shrapnel are the real deal, many of which are being exhibited here for the first time. Still, you'd be best to walk out before the last 10 minutes, which exploit this essential piece of historical record to cheaply and irrelevantly comment on the earth's eco crisis.
Showing at the Maple Art Theatre (4135 W. Maple Rd., Bloomfield Hills; 248-263-2111) and at the Michigan Theater (603 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor; 734-668-8463).
John Thomason writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].