Published on May 11th, 2016 | by Neil Jordan0
The Last Man On The Moon
Today I have the great privilege of presenting to you a documentary. A story of history and a hero amongst heroes who helped make that history. Not just American history but HUMAN history. Directed by Mark Craig ‘The Last Man On The Moon’ follows the trail of Gemini and Apollo Program veteran and NASA astronaut Eugene Cernan who would eventually be designated the flight commander for the last manned mission to the moon aboard Apollo 17 and become the last human being to set foot on the moon on December 14th 1972.
The Moon. Earth’s closest celestial neighbor and only natural satellite. For over 4.5 billion years it orbited the earth. No inhabitants. No sign of life. It’s only visitors consisting of meteorites and assorted space debris. This all began to change in 1961 when the soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human being to orbit the Earth. In the midst of the civil rights movement, the beginning of Vietnam War, and the Cold War the Space Race between the two great Superpowers had begun. The Russians had beaten the United States to space. The ultimate objective though was who would get to the moon first. For the United States, that almost unthinkable task fell to NASA and the astronauts of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo Programs. On July 29th, 1969 the United States accomplished the unthinkable when Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed their lunar module on the moon’s surface and become the first humans to set foot upon the moon. Between 1969 and 1972 twelve human beings successfully set foot on the moon. Even though those men were Americans, they went in the spirit and the name of mankind. Every time the astronauts went into space, it wasn’t just their families and comrades at NASA holding their breath and praying for them and not just their nation, but the whole world that watched in awe and bated breath.
USN Captain Eugene Andrew “Gene” Cernan (Retired) is one of those brave men. One of those extraordinary few who ventured to where even fewer had ever gone before. This film follows his journey from his days as a naval aviator flying the FJ-4 Fury A-4 Skyhawk attack fighters to the beginnings of his NASA career as when he was selected among a third group of astronauts in October 1963 to participate in projects Gemini and Apollo. He would go onto travel into space three times as a pilot on Gemini 9A in 1966 again as Lunar Module Pilot aboard Apollo 10 and ultimately as commander of the final Apollo moon landing Apollo 17. Throughout the film, we not only get to hear Captain Cernan’s story but we also get to learn about his journey from members of his family, his fellow astronauts and colleagues at NASA, and former comrades in the military including Jim Lovell, Gene Kranz, Alan Bean, Christopher Kraft, Charles Duke, and Richard Gordon. We learn that like any journey there was hardship and loss. The stress on the relationships with his family, the loss of his colleagues in the fire of Apollo 1, no great journey of this magnitude will leave an individual unscathed.
In an age where people are considered ‘heroes’ just for being celebrities, it was a most excellent experience to watch a film where we are introduced to real people who are heroes because they dared. They dared to follow a dream that wasn’t just one person’s dream. But a dream shared by countless people and the hero of this story was one of those dreamers who etched his name into history along with 11 other people. For 1 hour and 35 minutes, he allows us to see that dream realized through his eyes and brief glimpse of his journey to get there.
I’m giving this one 4 out 5 stars. This is by far one of the best documentaries I’ve had the good fortune to see. To see history in the making whether it’s American history or world history through the eyes of one of the people who helped to write it is a rare opportunity. Witnessing the beginnings of manned space flight and some of its greatest achievements yet is even more rare.
Trust me on this. Buy the digital download or the DVD watch the film and then go outside and look at the moon and tell me it looks the same. After watching ‘The Last Man On The Moon’ … It doesn’t look the same to me.
On behalf of my fellows at ‘Skewed & Reviewed’ this is your friendly neighborhood photographer ‘The CameraMan’ saying thanks for reading, and we’ll see you at the movies!