Moonwalk One (The Director’s Cut)

Director: Theo Kamecke / Producer: Francis Thompson / Director’s Cut Produced by: Duncan Copp, David Fairhead & Chris Riley / An Attic Room, BHP Group & Molinare production / 107 minutes

Moonwalk One was commissioned by NASA in 1969, to record the first attempt to put men on the Moon. Directed by first timer Theo Kamecke, it was released to positive reviews in 1970. Combining stunning footage (some of it shot on 65mm) with a portentious commentary and avant garde music, it was a time capsule of the Apollo era. In 2009, together with Chris Riley, Duncan Copp and Steve Milne of Molinare, I helped to restore this film, by remastering it to HD from an original 35mm print that had been stored beneath Theo’s desk for almost 40 years. The re-released film premiered in time for the 40th anniversary of the Moon landings, at London’s National Film Theatre in July 2009.

“Kamecke’s film could be placed in a time capsule and removed some time in the distant future as an exact record of our feelings at the time.”  Kathleen Carroll, New York Sunday News 1972

“Deserves to be a companion piece to Stanley Kubrick’s masterwork “2001: A Space Odyssey” Joseph Gelmis, Newsday 1972

It probably hasn’t escaped your attention that it’s 40 years since Apollo 11. And you can’t help feel that for all the hoopla surrounding this milestone, in the modern world we just can’t get as excited about the Moon landings as they did in the 1960s… Which is why watching Moonwalk One is such a surprisingly refreshing and exciting experience – managing to infect even this cynical observer with child-like wonder… This is more than just a collection of stock footage and narration in the style of a Discovery Channel special, and more than just a fascinating historical document (though it is that too)… My favourite parts of Moonwalk One are those that humanise the mission – the little background details. The ladies who make the space-suits, for example, bespectacled middle-aged housewives straight out of Gary Larson cartoons using needles and thread, or mission control reading the morning papers to the astronauts as they sail through space, including a story about the world porridge-eating championships in Corby. These very human features remind us that this was not just another bit of 1960s high sci-fi, but a properly old fashioned marvel of engineering, skill and bravery.

At the centre of the film is the footage of the mission, and here Kamecke’s skill is to let the images speak for themselves. Many of these pieces will be familiar to modern eyes, but the director gives the footage the time it deserves, uncluttered by commentary or cut-aways. When the camera follows the rocket from launch as it streaks across the blue sky, Kamecke shows nothing else for several minutes, with no commentary – only the roar of the engines and the radio chatter between the craft and the ground. It’s an image we’ve all seen before, but never, perhaps, had the opportunity to marvel at like this… after watching this, I suddenly get what all the fuss was about.” Ben Marsden, Wired

Theo firing pass