Best media about Apollo 11
July 20, 2019 8:01 AM   Subscribe

50 years ago, we went to the moon (the fucking moon!) What are the best works, fictional or not, that depict this?

I’m listening to the Apollo 11 broadcast and watching Apollo 13 (yep, I know) but I want books, podcasts, movies, shows, et cetera about when we went to the motherfucking moon.

I’m especially curious about takes from the people on the ground - any real life remembrances from either people involved with NASA or bystanders. What was it like to watch this or be a part of it?

I can’t believe we went to the fucking moon!
posted by punchtothehead to Science & Nature (25 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
The episode Mad Men did involving the moon landing was great - “Waterloo,” Season 7, Episode 7.
posted by sallybrown at 8:09 AM on July 20, 2019 [2 favorites]

REM, If You Believe.
posted by Oyéah at 8:26 AM on July 20, 2019

Just in case you missed it, the NYT has a SUPER multimedia feature:
Watch this on your biggest monitor.
posted by wisekaren at 8:28 AM on July 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

Looks like From the Earth to the Moon might be available on HBO for streaming. It's chronological, covering the entire program, but each episode is thematic. It's based on the book A Man on the Moon by Andrew Chaikin.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:36 AM on July 20, 2019 [7 favorites]

The PBS series "Chasing the Moon" (American Experience S31 E3, E4, E5) that's being broadcast currently was quite comprehensive, focusing on the US and Soviet space programs themselves, experiences of people involved, some remembrances of members of the media covering the US operations and examples of the coverage, and a bit about the worldwide popular response.
posted by XMLicious at 8:40 AM on July 20, 2019 [2 favorites]

Also there's a MetaTalk thread where MeFites are discussing their own recollections.
posted by XMLicious at 8:48 AM on July 20, 2019

The recent Apollo 11 film made from the original footage shot at the time is amazing. Best to see this in a cinema if you can.
posted by carter at 8:57 AM on July 20, 2019 [12 favorites]

And if you are interested in a wide interpretation of 'works,' looking at all kinds of models of the Saturn V could also be interesting.
posted by carter at 8:59 AM on July 20, 2019

The BBC podcast 13 Minutes to the Moon.
posted by marylynn at 9:02 AM on July 20, 2019 [3 favorites]

Watch the live tv coverage from this day 50 years ago at the proper times throughout the day today! Kottke does this every year. It's great.
posted by shesbookish at 9:02 AM on July 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

Apollo in Real Time:

It was linked to on the Blue awhile ago. Had it open in a tab since the day of liftoff a few days ago. I check in throughout the day to see what the crew is up to at any given moment.
posted by Fukiyama at 9:09 AM on July 20, 2019

I am surprised no one has recommended a book yet! I reread Of a Fire on the Moon by Norman Mailer a few years ago and found it quite interesting. It gives a vivid view of how the project was experienced by some people at that time, filtered through a very unsympathetic reporter. Despite the author's hostile personal take on the events, he does report on a lot of the story in a memorable way. I still recall his passages on the differences between science and engineering, on Gene Kranz and the mission control crew, and his brief conversation with Von Braun.

Come to think of it, historian Michael J. Neufeld's biography Von Braun: Dreamer of Space, Engineeer of War, is not just about the Apollo project (though much of it is), but provides a lot of the grim background on some of the creators of the technology and what they did along the way to Apollo.
posted by JonJacky at 9:25 AM on July 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

I liked Michael Collins "Carrying The Fire" quite a bit.
posted by smcameron at 9:35 AM on July 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

Murray, C. & Cox, C.B. (1989) "Apollo: the race to the moon", reprinted in 2004 and Kindled in 2010. Amazing behind the scenes emphasis on the engineering challenges and the innovative NASA operational organization. I am re-reading in simultaneously with John Clark's "Ignition". More than you could ever want to know about how rocketry works, and why exactly the Saturn V and Apollo spacecraft were considered such amazing achievements.
posted by NotAlwaysSo at 9:51 AM on July 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

Tangential but I think it's interesting to compare travelling to the Moon at the speed of light to travelling to Mars at the speed of light
posted by oh pollo! at 10:52 AM on July 20, 2019

Jim Lovell’s Lost Moon is a must-read, as is Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff.
posted by vitout at 12:01 PM on July 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

The best documentary ever made about the Apollo missions, by a quarter million miles, is In The Shadow Of The Moon (2007).

The filmmakers just sat down all of the surviving astronauts, 40 years on, and let them do the talking. It's entirely in their own words. And to top it off, they went down to the NASA archives and dug out a whole load of colour footage that had never been seen. And put it all together beautifully and thoughtfully to a score to die for.

I seriously cannot recommend it enough. And the whole thing is on YouTube.

When you're done with it, go and find a a copy of Moon Machines, which is a miniseries by the same team where they do the same thing for the engineers who built everything and made it work.
posted by automatronic at 1:01 PM on July 20, 2019 [5 favorites]

This is why I love Metafilter. Thank you, each of you, so much.
posted by punchtothehead at 1:34 PM on July 20, 2019

From the Smithsonian:
Apollo's Moon Shot
The Day We Walked on the Moon
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:13 PM on July 20, 2019

I've been reading a very interesting perspective on Apollo that's focused on the fact that modern computing was more or less invented as part of it - going from vacuum tubes and individual transistors to integrated circuits and flexible software, and so on.

It's called Digital Apollo, by David Mindell. Really cool to hear what was going on in an MIT lab at the same time as this or that test or launch, which are mentioned with the same distance that the computer development is mentioned in the primary histories. Very well written and Mindell was close to the sources.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 5:10 PM on July 20, 2019

This Curious Droid video is a very well put together explanation of how the Apollo (and Shuttle) missions were filmed.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:13 PM on July 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

Book: Full Moon by Michael Light. He was the guy they comissioned to do the digital scans of all the original moon negatives back in the 90s (after scanners got good enough to resolve down to the film grain). The story of how the negatives were handled after they returned to earth is fascinating. (They're currently back in cold storage in a helium atmosphere btw) but the book is just approx. 200 photos that he selected and they are amazing and some are abstract and beautiful. Example (on facing pages) a patch of lunar soil. The same patch but with a boot print on it (done for scientific purposes to figure out the properties of moon dust in situ)
posted by sexyrobot at 10:11 PM on July 20, 2019

I watched this from NatGeo last night. It was incredible. It was on demand, and I watched it on DirecTV.
posted by kathrynm at 4:36 AM on July 21, 2019

For All Mankind is one of my comfort food documentaries, I own it on dvd, watch it at least once a year.
posted by dbiedny at 5:10 PM on July 21, 2019

Gil Scott-Heron's perspective
posted by brujita at 5:50 PM on July 21, 2019

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