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Film / For All Mankind

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Space is cool.

"We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard."

For All Mankind is a 1989 Documentary directed by Al Reinart.

It chronicles the Apollo missions to the moon (specifically, Apollos 8 and 10-17). The film eschews Talking Heads and many other documentary tropes, instead consisting of NASA's own footage of the Apollo missions, overlaid with recorded radio chatter from the missions and commentary from the astronauts themselves. Instead of examining each mission in turn, clips from all of them are edited together to resemble a single mission. Among the highlights is the explosion on the Apollo 13 flight, later dramatized as Apollo 13.

The documentary is also notable for the music, which was composed by Brian Eno. The soundtrack, Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks (1983) was released earlier than the movie, because of a lukewarm audience reaction during test screenings of the film. The film was then delayed a few years and only released in 1989.


  • Book Ends: Clips from John Kennedy's 1962 speech at Rice University about the space program are shown at the start and at the finish of the film.
  • Boring Return Journey: Well you wouldn't think a return journey in space would be boring. But the homeward bound half of the Apollo missions is shown in barely a minute. There's a shot of the LM taking off from the moon, a shot of the rendezvous with the command module, then a shot of the command module parachuting down to Earth and landing in the ocean. That's it.
  • Cool Car: They had a dune buggy for driving on the Moon.
    • No, really, They had a dune buggy for driving on the Moon.
  • Cool Starship: Went to the goddamn Moon.
  • Cult Soundtrack: Brian Eno's soundtrack, also available as Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks.
  • Dare to Be Badass: See the page quote from John F. Kennedy, re: going to the moon just to go.
  • The Ken Burns Effect: Used when showing still photos of the Earth and Moon.
  • Manipulative Editing: Some creative editing went into this movie. Kennedy's quote was "for all people", not "for all mankind", but the director dubbed in "mankind" from a different Kennedy clip. To complement the Ken Mattingly quote where he remembers seeing the Moon out of the window of the command module, the filmmakers taped a picture of the Moon to a window on an Apollo command module.
  • Narrator: Not a single narrator, but a series of audio clips from the Apollo astronauts, sharing their memories and impressions as the Stock Footage plays.
  • Oh, Crap!: The famous "Houston, we have a problem" clip—although the documentary reveals that the actual quote from Lovell is "Houston, we've had a problem."note 
  • P.O.V. Cam: A camera mounted on the Lunar Roving Vehicle shows the POV of Charlie Duke and John Young as they dune buggy around the Moon.
  • Scenery Porn: They flew to the Moon. Yep, lots of scenery porn.
  • Shout-Out: Also sprach Zarathustra is played on a cassette player aboard an Apollo mission, complete with a reference to 2001: A Space Odyssey.
  • Stock Footage: The whole movie is old footage from the Apollo missions edited together.