Director: Mark Craig
Cast: Eugene Cernan, Alan Bean, Charles Duke, Richard Gordon, Christopher Kraft, Gene Kranz, Jim Lovell
Running Time: 95 minutes
There’s always a sense of ‘Why aren’t we exploring space more? We did it then, surely we’ll be able to do it now?’ and that may be true and Mark Craig’s documentary does a vital job of showing the wonder of space travel in all its glory but an even more vital job of showing the tragedy that befell the early Apollo missions. That tragedy put the documentaries focal point, Gene Cernan, into the position to even go to space and subsequently become the last man to walk on the moon.
Cernan is a fascinating individual and is the entry point into how Craig shows the foundation he and his colleagues laid for the story we all know that involves one Neil Armstrong. The sequence of events, the trial and tribulations that the Space Programme went through in order for man to even make it to the moon is documented well. Clearly, there’s a lot to get into and nowhere near enough time to do that, but Craig does a nice job of hitting the main points and presenting them in an engaging way.
One thing that Craig does that is key is show the ripple effect that being a committed astronaut has and how it affects home life. Almost all the men who were selected for the Space Programme openly admit that they were “selfish”, “not good husbands” with Cernan’s remarking, “If you think going to the moon is hard, try staying at home”. In a particularly moving scene, Cernan revisits his old home and points out how all the astronauts lived on the same street with their families and talks about how close all the families were, a “band of brothers”. The scene moves into the major tragedy of the Space Programme, the tragic fate of the Apollo 1 crew and it shows how devastating that was for everyone with one single camera movement.
Craig does a neat job by really hitting home how meaningful the work Cernan and co. did by cutting to museum exhibits of the actual space crafts and space suits that were used and that’s the real meaning of the film. These men did amazing things and we all must be thankful and appreciative to the sacrifices they made in their personal lives, Craig shows that very well in a moving and gripping doc.
THE LAST MAN ON THE MOON is released in select US theaters February 26.