Late Friday night I had the distinct pleasure of catching on TCM the greatest documentary I’ve ever seen. Titled For All Mankind, the film documents the Apollo space missions of the 1960’s and 70’s. Unlike traditional documentaries there are no on screen interviews, or voice narration by the filmmaker. Director Al Reinert picked from 6 million feet of film and 80 hours of interviews compiled by NASA to create an 80 minute masterpiece taking the viewer on a journey from lift off to the actual moon landing.
Having been born the 1980’s, the era of the space race and the moon landing is something I only knew through history classes and Hollywood movies. The awe inspiring beauty of Earth from space, especially at the beginning where the fires of Bedouin tribes burning in Arabia can be seen, alone make the film a must see. But the film isn’t for nerds and historians only. There is the human element from the playfulness of the astronauts enjoying zero gravity, the dedication of the men on the ground in Houston, and the ecstatic celebration as the lunar module safely lands on the moon and Neil Armstrong takes his first steps on it. For All Mankind is not only an incredible masterpiece of cinematic art but an invaluable historical document about one of the greatest achievements in history.
For all the universal grandiosity of Neil Armstrong’s famous words that inspired the film’s title, it is white history. European Man went to space and walked on the moon. And the film captures this. All the astronauts are white. All the brains in Houston are white. Even all the technicians helping the astronauts put on their suits are white. In fact the only non-white in the film is a black man standing behind JFK during a speech, who smoking a cigarette looks like he isn’t that interested in space travel. The music the astronauts play on radios brought with them is country and classical. Whites have always been at the forefront of exploration: Columbus’ discovery of the Americas, Magellan’s circumnavigating the globe, and Amundsen’s reaching the South Pole. Armstrong’s first steps on the moon were the culmination of white’s Faustian spirit of exploration and discovery.
Unfortunately the spirit that drove whites to achieve these marvels is no longer there. Instead of building on the achievements of the Apollo missions covered in the film, we have since abandoned manned space exploration and have squandered incalculable energy and resources in trying to make non-whites “equal” to us. Only when whites have a home of our own can we continue achieving such greatness.
Till then For All Mankind is a must watch to see what whites once achieved and can achieve again.