Apollo 11 Parent Guide
The closest you can come to the space program without going into orbit or visiting the Kennedy Space Center.
Parent Movie Review
Sitting in a capsule with only 218 cubic feet of space, 363 feet above the marshy Floridian landscape, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins prepare to make history. Once they ignite their rocket engines, they will burn 20 tons of fuel per second and produce 7.5 million pounds of thrust to break free of Earth’s orbit.This moment is familiar to anyone with an interest in space travel. However, NASA shot a lot more footage over the eight days of the Apollo 11 mission. In this riveting documentary film, director Todd Douglas Miller worked with NASA and a post-production studio to restore this footage and provide a previously unseen perspective on the mission that sent the first man to the moon.
If you have a chance to see this movie, see it on the largest screen you can find. The scale of the space program is astoundingly apparent in Apollo 11 and this can best be appreciated on an IMAX or other big screen. In the opening sequences, the unbelievable size of the Vehicle Assembly Building, crawler-transporter, and Saturn V rocket are just as awe-inspiring as the famous Star Destroyer crawl from the beginning of Star Wars: A New Hope. I would argue they are even more so, because these things actually exist in the real world. Having been to the Kennedy Space Center and stood under a Saturn V rocket, I can confidently tell you that watching this film is as close as you can get to the real thing without traveling to Florida.
By sticking entirely to historical footage, with no added interviews or commentary, Todd Douglas Miller has created an amazingly immersive view of the mission. According to the closing credits, even the soundtrack (created by Matt Morton) was made up entirely of instruments and sounds which were available in July of 1969. Fortunately, this attention to historical detail has not detracted from the artfulness of the film. To my eye, the shot of ice cracking and falling from the rocket body into the flames of Apolo11’s engines at lift off is as stunning and beautiful as the cinematography in any indie art film you can name.
With Apollo 11’s G-rating, there’s virtually nothing for parents to be concerned about. That said, parts of the movie can be very loud and intense, and very young or sensitive children might be frightened. The rest of the film might also be a little difficult for kids, as it has little dialogue and focuses mainly on the historically recorded audio transmissions between Mission Control and the Command Module and NASA’s original footage.
As a massive space nerd, I’d recommend this to everybody. The jaw-dropping footage of the various modules docking and ejecting in space is worth the price of the ticket on its own (and even brings to mind some of the more bizarre conspiracy theories claiming Stanley Kubrick as the director of faked moon landings). However, the film is also absolutely compelling in disproving any such conspiracies and includes an incredible wealth of detail and sublime beauty in almost every scene. And hey, if nothing else, you’ll probably learn something. It’s not every day you get an educational film as gorgeous as this one.Directed by Todd Douglas Miller. Starring Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, and Michael Collins. Running time: 93 minutes. Theatrical release March 8, 2019. Updated March 5, 2019
Watch the trailer for Apollo 11
Rating & Content Info
Why is Apollo 11 rated G? Apollo 11 is rated G by the MPAA
Violence: No violence is shown or described.
Sexual Content: None.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Some of the crew at the Mission Control Center are shown smoking in the background as was common for the period. Cigars are passed around upon the successful return of the astronauts
Page last updated March 5, 2019
Apollo 11 Parents' Guide
The United States spent $6.4 billion in 1969 on the Saturn V rocket program (which would equal $42.7 billion in 2017 dollars.) Do you think the government was right to spend so much money on space exploration when they had 24.3 million citizens living in poverty?
The film primarily shows white male astronauts and mission control employees. Who else worked at NASA at the time? What were their contributions? Why do you think that NASA avoided filming them when they shot this footage?
Read books about Apollo 11
If you loved the stunning footage in Apollo 11, you will undoubtedly be pleased with Rod Pyle’s First on the Moon: The Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Experience. This book commemorates the moon landing with lavish illustrations, some never previously published. National Geographic has also produced a retrospective on the mission with Apollo to the Moon: A History in 50 Objects.
For a meticulously researched view of the Apollo 11 mission within its historical context, read James Donovan’s Shoot for the Moon: The Space Race and the Extraordinary Voyage of Apollo 11.
Kids who are interested in space exploration can start with Brian Floca’s Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 with its extensive illustrations and text geared at early elementary readers. These kids will also enjoy One Giant Leap by Robert Burleigh and Mike Wimmer.
Teenage readers might get a kick out of a young man’s perspective on Apollo 11. Author David Chudwin was a college reporter covering the 1969 launch. His book I Was a Teenage Space Reporter: From Apollo 11 to Our Future in Space recounts his lifelong fascination with space travel.
Do you wonder why people hang on to conspiracy theories like those that suggest the moon landing was faked? Check out Jonathan Kay’s Among the Truthers for an interesting insight into what makes conspiracy theories and their believers tick. For a book that specifically addresses moon hoax conspiracies, try Paolo Attivissimo’s Moon Hoax: Debunked!
Related home video titles:
There’s a lot to choose from for viewers interested in the history of the space program, including another Apollo 11 documentary, In the Shadow of the Moon. .
Hollywood has created dramatic retellings of the space program for decades. The story of Apollo 11 is told from the perspective of Neil Armstrong in First Man. The dangers of space travel are depicted in Apollo 13. And the story of the African American women who provided critical technical support for NASA missions is related in Hidden Figures.
Viewers looking for dramatic space movies can watch Stanley Kubrick’s classic 2001 A Space Odyssey with its iconic soundtrack and love-it-or-hate-it plot. The Martian tells the tale of an astronaut mistakenly left for dead on Mars and forced to survive until a rescue mission arrives. Gravity depicts an accident in space which leaves one astronaut drifting through the void, trying to make her way back to her ship.
Another documentary which has made brilliant use of archival footage is They Shall Not Grow Old. A passion project for director Peter Jackson, this movie features brilliantly restored original film from World War I.