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WGBH Boston Video presents
To the Moon (1999)

We expected to land on the moon sooner or later, because it's so close, and because everybody could see the moon. It made a very good target.
- Max Faget (Engineer, Johnson Space Ctr.)

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: November 10, 2000

Stars: Gene Cernan, Frank Borman
Other Stars: Gene Kranz
Director: Alan Ritsko

Manufacturer: WGBH
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (description of deaths in a fire)
Run Time: 01h:57m:05s
Release Date: August 01, 2000
UPC: 783421322998
Genre: documentary

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ B+BB D-

DVD Review

To the Moon is just one of the countless documentaries and films that cover the NASA space program and man's mission to the moon. While other programs may be more in-depth or more expensively produced, I haven't seen another that packs so much information into a two-hour running time.

To the Moon is part of the NOVA series of documentaries. Like others from the company, To the Moon tries to capture the science and facts of the missions, rather than simply the human element. That isn't to say that this is all boring technical stuff. There are many interviews that deal with the emotional tensions between the crews and one particularly moving section on the first time men orbiting the moon saw the Earth rising like the Sun.

The bulk of the program is made up of interviews with anybody and everybody connected with the moon missions. From Sputnik to the Gemini project to the Apollo mission, astronauts and engineers offer their recollections of the entire process. Interspersed are clips of the actual missions, most taken from news programs at the time. These vintage interviews with the astronauts are of particular interest. I liked seeing them in present day and then 30 years earlier. It offered quite a bit of perspective on the whole ordeal. Coverage is given to every step in the process, and while not everything is covered as thoroughly as possible, there is a lot of information that will hold your interest.

When you think about it, the space program didn't accomplish a lot. It amounted mostly to a pissing contest with Russia. The process behind the scenes, however, has always been fascinating. Man's quest for the moon may not have been practical, but the fact that it was accomplished speaks volumes about what humanity can achieve if there is a determination to do it.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: It is a bit difficult to assess the quality of this transfer. The new interview segments look good, with crisp colors and little softness or aliasing. The films that make up the bulk of the program, however, were taken by news organizations 30 years ago. These clips are of wildly varying quality, some very soft and scratched. Still, overall this is a very good presentation.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: This track can't really be faulted, but it isn't anything special either. Everything is represented by the front soundstage. Dialogue and narration is always clear and there is no hiss present.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Access to the To the Moon website and NASA and NOVA websites
Extras Review: The cover art labels this disc as a "Collector's Edition," but no extras are provided short of other title recommendations and pointers to the NASA and NOVA websites. Not even a chapter insert is provided, which would've been nice. Instead the chapters are listed on the disc, which isn't really a big help when you think about it.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

To the Moon doesn't cover much new ground. If you have seen From the Earth to the Moon, nothing here will be new. Still, it is an interesting look into the past; a step back to a time when space exploration was about national pride, not studying "the effects of weightlessness on tiny screws" and carting up repair parts to Mir.


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