Documentary Monday~~Magnificent Desolation

TitleMagnificent Desolation

Year–2005

Awards–Won Outstanding Visual Effects in a Special Venue Project at the Visual Effects Society Awards, 2006

Summary–Uses a combination of NASA videos with simulated footage to introduce what it feels like to walk on the moon.

My Thoughts–I know that I just posted about an astronaut documentary not too long ago, but I do have a real fascination with space and I couldn’t pass up watching this one when I saw that it was an IMAX movie and that Tom Hanks was the narrator (I have a huge love for Tom Hanks, but I probably don’t even need to say that because everybody loves Tom Hanks).  I figured it was okay since it is the Fourth of July and what could be more patriotic than celebrating one of America’s greatest accomplishments?

I enjoyed the other documentary (The Wonder of it All) but I LOVED this one.  I was glad that I had watched the other one first because I recognized the names of the astronauts mentioned and they felt like old friends when they showed up in the archival footage.

The film is short and sweet and very entertaining.  It starts out with a brief overview of the Apollo program and talks about how only 12 men have ever set foot on the moon (I don’t care how many times I hear that, it always surprises me).  There is a really cute bit where they interview children and ask them some questions about astronauts.  When prompted to name some, one kid comes really close when he says Lance Armstrong (better than the kid who said Jim Carrey).  When asked how the astronauts go to the bathroom in space, one little guy said, “maybe they had to hold it.”  Priceless!

A huge part of the film takes place on the moon during a simulated future mission.  The production quality is really great and for a moment I was confused.  I was like, wait a minute, is this the NASA footage??  For those of you who are a little dense like me, the NASA footage is always shown as a smaller box or series of boxes in the center of the screen.  I adored the footage that they showed.  They highlighted other astronauts’ first steps off the ladder and their words as they set foot on the moon (since we all know what Neil Armstrong said, it was nice to hear from some of the other guys).

It was also great just to see the astronauts in candid moments on the moon.  Interviews are a great way to learn about their experiences, but you can really learn so much more about a person from watching a five second clip of them bouncing on the moon than you can in a 15 minute interview.  Plus, there is a lot of footage of astronauts falling down, which I now know to be one of the funniest things ever.  I kind of want to have tripping and falling astronauts as my screensaver 🙂

Another cool thing about this documentary is that various celebrities read quotes from the astronauts over the videos.  So you get to hear the real astronauts’ voices as well as having celebrity voice-overs.  It’s the best of both worlds!  I liked to try to figure out who it was saying all the quotes.  I picked out Gary Sinise, Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon, Matthew McConaughey, and Bill Paxton, but there are a ton more.

Final Verdict–This was a very cool little film that will be enjoyed by anyone with even the slightest interest in science.  It’s an IMAX show, so it is designed to appeal to a wide audience and I think it really succeeds.

Jen

P.S.  For your viewing pleasure, here is a video of astronauts falling!  I’ve watched it like five times and almost hyperventilated.  I don’t know if I’m just weird, or if it really is the funniest thing ever.

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2 Responses to “Documentary Monday~~Magnificent Desolation”


  1. 1 Jill July 6, 2011 at 9:07 am

    This movie sounds great! I’m definitely going to watch it. I think you’re right about Tom Hanks. Did you know that some people believe the moon landing was faked and never happened? it’s insane but I find it kind of interesting. One episode of Mythbusters tested some of the conspiracy theories.

  2. 2 ngtjennifer July 10, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    I have heard that. I think it’s kind of a crazy theory to believe, but when I try to imagine people landing on the moon, it is still impossible to wrap my mind around it, so I know where they are coming from.


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