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Author Topic: Accurate edition of Apollo 11 (2019) movie?  (Read 5001 times)

Offline SpaceDonkey

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Accurate edition of Apollo 11 (2019) movie?
« on: January 25, 2023, 12:41:37 am »
Hello all,

First thanks to those of you contributing to making this website, and the Apollo 11 (2019) movie a reality. These are awesome projects, and the movie is one of my favorite. I had the chance to meet the person who worked on audio mastering at a screening at Goddard Space Flight Center and it was great. I gladly organize screenings at scientific conferences, with friends and family, or just me and my dog.

The one thing that has bothered me however is that the movie contains ONE inaccuracy. I just wish it was completely accurate so I wouldn't have to add the caveat each time I introduce it.

With that said, does anyone know of an edition of the movie where the sequence in which the biomedical sensor on Collins (and the funny réplique that concerns) is placed in the correct chronological order of the mission (on return to Earth)?

Thanks!

Offline bfeist

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Re: Accurate edition of Apollo 11 (2019) movie?
« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2023, 01:14:53 pm »
Thanks for your message. I think I must have been that person at Goddard screening the film in 2019.

The movie contains many inaccuracies. Many :/ I won't ruin the film for you by listing them.

With that said, it's still very very accurate on the spectrum of the film industry in general. Apollo in Real Time endeavours to always push towards accuracy because we don't have to be entertaining to a general audience in a movie theatre. I think the best intro for the Apollo 11 film would be to point out that it has been made as historically accurate as possible, but if it's accuracy your audience members crave, they should check out Apollo in Real Time, the Apollo Flight Journal, and the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal after the film.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2023, 12:04:50 pm by bfeist »

Offline SpaceDonkey

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Re: Accurate edition of Apollo 11 (2019) movie?
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2023, 12:10:47 am »
Hello,

It is nice to interact again online. I was just rewatching the movie with some family friends (so awesome) and was reminded of this post. I didn't have notifications turned on.

I was wondering if there is an exhaustive list of the inaccuracies for my own education. Wikipedia only lists one, but after wondering about how the stage ignition footage was obtained I learned it was from a different mission for example.

Thanks!

Offline Naraht

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Re: Accurate edition of Apollo 11 (2019) movie?
« Reply #3 on: November 26, 2023, 05:25:17 am »
I'm not aware of anything like this, I'm afraid.

Why don't you do some research and pull a guide together, if it's a topic that interests you?

Offline bfeist

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Re: Accurate edition of Apollo 11 (2019) movie?
« Reply #4 on: November 26, 2023, 12:15:34 pm »
Depends what you want to define as "inaccuracy". I mean, the entire film's ambient sound was designed because all of the original historical footage was silent. I suppose technically, that's "inaccurate". You could go from there to the film's use of footage that wasn't shot during the Apollo 11 mission, then continue all the way up to listing mistakes in the film (there are a few).

I can honestly say that the film contains no inaccuracies that misinform the public. This is an important line that the whole team took very seriously.

Actually, just last week Bill Barry, NASA Chief Historian (ret) just accepted the Trask Award from the Society for History in the Federal Government. In his speech he talks about the importance of not misinforming the public when making historical films. He also had some kinds words for Apollo in Real Time.
https://youtu.be/ZtCs-RV_Lek?si=5ONNWdwqrNdCQAvN&t=2243

Offline Stephen Slater

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Re: Accurate edition of Apollo 11 (2019) movie?
« Reply #5 on: November 27, 2023, 08:44:53 am »
I was the archive producer of the "Apollo 11" film.

As Ben says, there's nothing materially misleading in the film, and any "liberties" that were taken are well within the boundaries of acceptable techniques for documentary makers.

It could be argued that the Collins biomed sensor quote mentioned was in some way misleading, but I don't think it really matters where that line was used because it doesn't pertain to any particular significant milestone in the flight, and we aren't claiming that it was. It essentially could have happened at any point... I think there would be more of an issue if we'd specifically linked it to an important sequence, e.g placing it during the landing.

The same goes for the "Mother Country" music sequence... the section of the on board audio when we know the music was played wasn't from Day 7, it was from when they were in lunar orbit... but this makes no material difference... they had the music with them on the on board tapes, and as used in the film it's essentially a montage sequence, backed by a song they were historically verified as having with them. The audience understands the "rules" of the "deception", for instance as Ben says, they know when we see a shot of the command module with Mike Collins "alone" in lunar orbit that there wasn't a cameraman out there filming him in a spacecraft while Neil and Buzz were on the surface.

The problem is where filmmakers actually try and change the historical events to suit the narrative they want to tell, and change the historical truth of events, so that would be us including something like Neil Armstrong throwing the bracelet into the crater for his daughter... we don't have any evidence that it happened, so it's inappropriate to use that in a documentary. Where these boundaries are can be subjective, but I think most credible documentarians understand where the line is.

Offline MadDogBV

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Re: Accurate edition of Apollo 11 (2019) movie?
« Reply #6 on: November 27, 2023, 09:30:18 am »
Documentary authors have to weave a difficult line between being making a film that is appealing and compelling in the narrative sense, which does involve taking creative liberties, versus being as historically accurate as possible. Once upon a time, I thought it was more important to adhere to the latter principle, but I've come to realize that when most film reviewers - be they a professional like Roger Ebert or just the word of a friend whom you trust - scrutineer documentaries about topics such as the space program, they're not so concerned about whether or not the biomed readings were accurate. They are more focused on ensuring that the drama, ambition, wonderment, and scientific innovation of that time period was successfully captured on film so that the viewer can relive an enthralling and engaging if not believable simulation of those pivotal moments in human history.

Frankly, compared to other frequently-espoused historical myths, the implications of that rather pales in comparison to something like the infamous "the two stood eye to eye and the other fellow blinked" in reference to the Cuban Missile Crisis, a myth that persists in popular AND historical media to this day. 😁 I'd say "Apollo 11" gets a pass.

For strictly reliable secondary sources of the events that took place during the Apollo program, the best place to go would probably be the Apollo Flight Journal - and as for primary sources, I would say those would be the MOCR tapes themselves. It's wonderful that NASA had such a keen eye towards posterity particularly in those days.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2023, 09:46:03 am by MadDogBV »

Offline bfeist

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Re: Accurate edition of Apollo 11 (2019) movie?
« Reply #7 on: November 27, 2023, 04:12:45 pm »
They didn't have much of a keen eye on posterity, we (as historians) got lucky that the data they saved for other purposes could be repurposed for historical insight. The MOCR tapes were recorded for audit purposes in case an event such as an emergency occurred. The MOCR tapes were used in the Apollo 13 congressional investigation; in fact, we were only able to track down the tapes that covered the period of the onboard explosion several years after finding the main body of Apollo 13 MOCR tapes at the national archives. They were stored with the rest of the Apollo 13 investigation material. The same goes for transcripts--these were used to construct the "as flown" version of the flight plan of each mission and therefore inform the planning of subsequent missions. The list goes on.

I work at NASA on the Artemis missions now and am doing my best to ensure that flight information is stored in context--in a way that won't require a group like the Apollo in Real Time team to reconstruct the events 50 years from now. Those future generations won't have typewritten documents to work with. They'll have MS Teams meeting recordings and piles of Sharepoint data all of course in formats that are unreadable to those future generations without tremendous sleuthing.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2023, 04:16:45 pm by bfeist »