Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Last Man on the Moon (on DVD)

I had a bit of a Twilight Zone moment while watching this documentary DVD at home on January 16th, 2017. The DVD froze in my older DVD player, and I decided to stick it in my computer to watch the rest of the program, but before I did, I decided to check on the Internet to see what Gene Cernan was up to since this documentary was released in 2015. To my dismay, I discovered that Eugene Cernan had passed away that very morning, at the age of 82. It made watching the remainder of this superb film somewhat melancholy.

The Last Man on the Moon, taken from Cernan’s own autobiography title, is a somber and reflective look at astronaut Gene Cernan’s history with NASA, and his years since being the final human being to have stood on the surface of the Moon. Six Apollo missions landed on the Moon, starting with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s visit on July 20, 1969, and ending with Gene Cernan and Harrison “Jack” Schmitt’s departure on December 14, 1972. Twelve humans have trod the surface of our celestial neighbor, and with Cernan’s passing, six remain alive. The documentary film-makers spent four years interviewing Cernan’s friends and colleagues, and following Cernan in his everyday life, and the footage they compiled and assembled for this show really humanizes Cernan and makes him a very likeable guy…someone easy to relate to. I was fascinated by the footage of the early years of the space program, but even more fascinated by Cernan’s recollections of his old Houston neighborhood, when he visits in the modern era. Recreation scenes and/or special effects nicely supplement the content when original footage is not available.

Watching this documentary made me sad for the state of our current space program, but made me appreciate all the more what seemingly insurmountable obstacles the scientists and astronauts faced when President John F. Kennedy threw down the gauntlet of challenge to put a man on the moon. The scientific and social benefits that humanity has reaped as a result of the space program of the 1960s and early 1970s is remarkable. In the end, The Last Man on the Moon is a celebration of not just one man, but the entire program that got him to his place in history.

I can’t recommend this one highly enough!

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Cernan’s book The Last Man on the Moon (not in LCL), In the Shadow of the Moon (DVD), John Glenn: A Memoir by John Glenn, Moon Dust: In Search of the Men Who Fell to Earth by Andrew Smith, Neil Armstrong: A Life of Flight by Jay Barbee, or Magnificent Desolation: The Long Journey Home From the Moon by Buzz Aldrin.)

( Internet Movie Database entry for this film ) | ( official Last Man on the Moon web site )

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Puiblic Library

Have you watched this one? What did you think? Did you find this review helpful?

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