In the Shadow of the Moon (U)

David Sington's documentary details the experience of that small band of Apollo astronauts who made it to the moon. It is respectful, enthusiastic and occasionally rather touching as the men, now in their seventies, recall how it felt up there. Yet the really important question never gets asked: what was it all for?

Judging from the US government's attitude at the time it marked, first of all, a propaganda victory over the Soviets, and secondly, a gigantic PR campaign to offset the social and political bad news – Vietnam, assassinations, riots – of the late 1960s. Sorry to be a killjoy, but I'm with Gil Scott-Heron on this one: "I can't pay no doctor's bills – but whitey's on the Moon." If the miracle of Earth isn't enough for us, then surely its madness ought to be.

The genial and thoughtful Michael Collins, the Apollo 11 command module pilot who didn't step on the Moon, seems to recognise this when he describes the first landing: "wonderful, but ephemeral".

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