Fifty years ago last month, one of the most important events in the history of mankind took place when Apollo 11 landed on the surface of the moon and its occupants – Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin – stepped out of the capsule and became the first humans to ever walk on the lunar surface. That moment, on July 20, 1969 was the day the world actually stopped and – for once – came together. While everybody knows the story of the Apollo 11 mission, not everyone knows the full story that led up to that historic moment, that is until now. PBS Distribution released a new documentary centered on the Apollo 11 mission July 9 to celebrate the mission’s 50th anniversary. The story at the center of the six-and-a-half-hour documentary is in itself more than enough reason for audiences to own this presentation. It will be addressed shortly. The bonus content that comes with the documentary’s home presentation adds more for viewers to appreciate. It will be addressed a little later on. The documentary’s combined primary and secondary content makes its average price point such that audiences will agree that the money spent on the multi-part presentation is money well-spent. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the documentary. All things considered, they make American Experience: Chasing The Moon a work that gives audiences the moon and more in terms of the Apollo 11 story.
PBS Distribution’s presentation of American Experience: Chasing The Moon is a work that more than exceeds expectations for history buffs and space history aficionados alike. That is due in part to the story at the center of the program. The story presents not just the familiar story of the Apollo 11’s groundbreaking lunar landing, but the evolution of America’s space program both within itself and as it pertained to America’s competition with Russia’s space program and government. That is just one of the key elements of the program’s story. Audiences will be surprised to learn some not so savory elements of the evolution of America’s space program, such as the fact that it dealt with some issues of race relations. Apparently it was possible one of the first men on the moon could have been African-American if not for the sociopolitical climate of the times. On a related note, it is argued through the program’s interviewees that NASA’s mission control was located in Houston because most of the congressional members who played a part in NASA’s evolution were from the south. It is argued that this is also likely why the noted astronaut likely was eventually removed from the lunar program. Hearing that astronaut’s comments about being scrubbed from the mission from actual recorded footage is a powerful thing. That is just one more element of the story that makes it so engaging. Viewers are also treated to anecdotes from media personnel who documented the evolution of the space program and the Apollo 11 landing. Viewers will be entertained and engaged by the anecdotes about certain media personnel who allegedly liked the camera and the limelight a little bit too much. On the same note, the recollections of the re-enactments that the media outlets used serves to show how pivotal they were in translating the astronauts’ journeys. It serves as the starting point for so many mass communications college courses’ discussions. As if everything noted here is not enough, the revelation that the Russians may have in fact managed to land a probe on the moon right around the same time that Apollo 11 landed is a part of history that is rarely if ever taught in any history class at any level. All of this and more is told through firsthand accounts from those connected with the space race and the eventual Apollo 11 mission. There is no one single narrator for this program. It makes the program that much more personal. The result is a presentation that connects with audiences that much more directly, and in turn ensures even more, viewers’ maintained engagement and entertainment. It makes a very strong foundation for the whole of American Experience: Chasing The Moon. While it does more than its share to keep viewers engaged and entertained, it is just one of the elements that makes the program’s home release a positive presentation. Its bonus content plays its own pivotal part to its overall presentation.
The bonus content that is featured with the home release of American Experience: Chasing The Moon is not as extensive as the story that forms the foundation of AmEx: Chasing The Moon, but is still interesting in its own right. It will appeal more to those who have an interest in video editing than the program’s primary target audience. The two bonuses featured within the program’s home release – “Interview with Robert Stone” and “Behind The Scenes With Film Crew” – take viewers into the genesis of the program and its creative process. Stone reveals in his solo interview that director Stanley Kubrick’s cinematic adaptation of 2001: A Space Odyssey is what first got him interested in the film creation process. He adds in his most enjoyable anecdote, his first experience as a film maker involved a super 8 camera kit that was not even his. It was not a criminal thing, but will certainly leave viewers laughing along with him as he recounts the story. Stone also recalls his interaction with Apollo 8 astronaut Frank Borman helped bring some of the footage for this documentary into the program. That story will be saved for audiences to discover on their own, but it is certainly an interesting story, needless to say. It is just one more of a number of topics that he touches on in his brief interview. When it is considered with the rest of the items that he discusses, the whole of the interview certainly proves entertaining and engaging in its own right.
The Behind The Scenes documentary will especially appeal to those who are students and lovers of the cinematic arts. Audiences learn firsthand how the music for the program came to life for starters. Viewers are also treated to discussions on the restoration of the original footage for the program. Though brief, this is its own interesting discussion because it exhibits the painstaking efforts taken to restore the footage. Looking back at the vintage footage used for the program, those efforts paid off, needless to say. Even the sound editing is addressed in this bonus segment as well as the general video editing. The whole of the topics will appeal primarily to the noted viewers. When it is considered along with the content presented in Stone’s interview, the whole of the bonus content proves quite entertaining and just as valuable to the whole of American Experience: Chasing The Moon as the program’s central story. When both the primary and secondary content are coupled, they prove the program’s average price point – both on DVD and Blu-ray – a number that while maybe not inexpensive, still money that is well-spent.
The average price point of American Experience: Chasing The Moon comes to $27.41 for its Blu-ray presentation and $24.49 for its DVD presentation. Those prices were reached by averaging prices from Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Booksellers and PBS’ store. At the time of this review’s posting, the program was not listed through Books-A-Million’s website on DVD and Blu-ray. Now keeping this in mind, the majority of the single listings were below that average price listing on both platforms. The majority of the listings were below those price points, though a couple – Target and Barnes & Noble Booksellers did come close on the Blu-ray price point. PBS’ listing was the only one that exceeded both platforms’ price point. Each retailer’s price point for the program’s DVD price exceeded its average by only cents. Keeping all of this in mind, that still makes the 3-disc set’s price less than $10/disc. At a total run time of six-and-a-half hours, that is actually quite affordable, especially considering the depth and breadth of the presented information. Keeping all of this in mind, the average price point of American Experience: Chasing The Moon proves just as integral in its own way to the whole of the program as its primary and secondary content. When all three elements are considered together, the whole of the elements makes this documentary an out of this world hit, proving once more why this documentary, though length, is well worth the watch by space history aficionados and history buffs in general.
PBS Distribution’s new American Experience documentary Chasing The Moon is a program that will keep lovers and students of space history and general history buffs alike fully engaged and entertained throughout the course of its six-and-a-half-hour run time. That is due in no small part to its completely engaging and entertaining story, which is told through the words of those connected to America’s space program and to the Apollo 11 mission. The bonus content that couples with that primary content will appeal to a more targeted audience, but is still just as entertaining and engaging in its own right. They collectively make the average price point for the program’s home release – both on DVD and Blu-ray – money that is very well spent. Each noted item is important in its own way to the whole of the program. All things considered, they make American Experience: Chasing The Moon a presentation that will give viewers the moon and more. More information on this and other episodes of American Experience is available online now at:
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