Especially for those who were fascinated by the Apollo missions, this decidedly earnest documentary is a wealth of eavesdropping done by director David Sington with a personal touch.
In The Shadow of the Moon uses previously unseen footage and talking heads from the eight survivors of the nine Apollo spacecraft during 1968 to 1972. In that time a dozen men, including the aloof Neil Armstrong, walked on it.
Having the likes of Jim Lovell, Gene Cernan, and Buzz Aldrin and their lesser known crew members discuss their experiences may connect most with those who were into the space exploration phenomenon. That footage, kept under lock and key by NASA for some three decades, turns out to be something to behold.
Sington seems to be a bit self-indulgent with some awe-inspiring material, perhaps diluted by the probable influence of NASA in getting the picture produced. Even if the orchestral score seems to become overwrought, the tracking of the race to reach the moon has its sparks through test pilots who would become the U.S.'s first astronauts.
Some of the telling moments include the world watching "one small step for man" on July 20, 1969, as well as the flash-fire tragedy of Apollo One. In The Shadow of the Moon doesn't neglect the social and political turmoil dealt with in Talk To Me regarding civil rights and Vietnam.
At some point, an energy and truth comes from the details of the astronauts approach to the meaning of what went through their heads as they were making history. It seems that Armstrong wasn't that warm towards his peers, and one gets the sense of The 11th Hour that one must take care of "a tiny oasis in a vast emptiness".
And, the light, even more spontaneously genuine moments come from Aldrin when talking about the specifics of a rendezvous or being on the moon's surface for the first time.
If the atmospherics of In The Shadow of the Moon threaten to disconnect it from orbit of optimal emotional uplift, then this involving account of the landings can't be abated by those who profess that they were staged (in a warehouse) for maximum inspiration and reverence.