People walked on the moon, 41 years ago today for the first time. Walked on the moon. It sounds like science fiction, but it’s history. Forty-years-gone history. Outside the living memory of many, many people now alive (including me, who wouldn’t make her debut on the planet till a month after Neil Armstrong’s famous first step on that dusty rock). That’s… weird. Especially to someone like me, who’d give anything for a trip off the planet, and can’t stand to see our tentative efforts to move out into space relegated to a historical footnote.
But I have my movies.
Ron Howard’s Apollo 13 is one of my favorite movies ever, and maybe — if I can manage to be objective about it — one of the best movies of the latter half of the 20th century. Sure, it’s about an event that could have been one of the most unsettling disasters in human history — it chills me to think that the astronauts on this doomed Lunar mission could have ended up as frozen corpses orbiting the moon to this day, or could have skipped off the Earth’s atmosphere on their tricky return only to go sailing off into deep space on an unretrievable trajectory. But no: Howard’s depiction of the triumphant averting of tragedy is journalistically straightforward in style while deeply, unschmaltzily emotional in its execution.
Even better, Apollo 13 so inspired star Tom Hanks — clearly a space geek after my own heart — that he went on to produce the HBO miniseries From the Earth to the Moon, a 12-part look at some of the previously unsung work that went into putting men on the Moon. My favorite episode? No. 10, “Galileo Was Right,” in which a geologist turns a bunch of flyboy jock astronauts into rock hounds of the first degree. (See? Science can be exciting!)
And then there’s Moon (which I just posted a review of, finally). It’s the newest example of how our natural satellite continues to stir our imagination, and it’s a beauty.
What’s your favorite movie or TV show (or scene from a movie or show) about the moon?
(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)