In the Shadow of the Moon


In the Shadow of the Moon is a documentary about the Apollo 11 moon landing, the seminal event that gave the world Neil Armstrong’s famous “One small step for man” quote. I was in college when Armstrong uttered that line, and I had little interest in the space program, considering it to be a diversion from problems here at home—war, racism, poverty. I also wasn’t too keen on astronauts. They struck me as superannuated jocks of the kind I’d known in high school. Going to the moon seemed pointless, an expensive visit to a lifeless rock. I could not have been more wrong about that. If you give yourself the rich emotional experience of watching this film, you’ll know just how wrong I was. And you’ll know why. After the astronauts returned to Earth, they made a circuit of the planet they’d seen from so far away. Everywhere they went, people said, “we did it.” Their use of “we,” the collective pronoun, did more to bring the peoples of the Earth together than anything that has happened since. And the United States has probably never had a finer moment.