'Apollo 11' documentary shows moon landing like never before

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The moon shot stretched the limits of the technology available half a century ago so it is fitting a new movie called, "Apollo 11," uses the best of what's available now to show us the moon shot like it's never been shown before.

The story of "Apollo 11" is told without new narration, using only voices from 50 years ago like the newscaster who explained the mission by saying, "Apollo 11 has been given the mission of carrying men to the moon, landing them there, and bringing them safely back."

History comes alive in the new movie that honors a great achievement by showing how remarkable it was, rather than just telling us about it.

I reminded the film's director that, "success was not assured, was it?" Todd Douglas Miller replied simply, "not by any means."

Vivid footage re-discovered in The National Archives, "puts you there, it puts you right there in the middle of it all," he explained.

The key was finding a way to transfer 65 mm film, shot in high resolution by professionals NASA hired.

"They got all these really great pre-launch sequences around the beach: close-ups of people's faces, etc.," Miller said.

To show the imagery in all of its detail, a digital transfer was needed and a special scanner had to be invented here in the city at a company called Final Frame.

"By doing that, it takes you on a ride, and it invites you to discover exactly what the people you are watching are discovering as well," Miller said.

The idea is to give the space program a human face. Watching the three astronauts before launch, "you could see the weight of what they were about to do."

Everyone knows the moon landing was a great triumph, and yet, I was on the edge of my seat watching events in the past, made so real, they feel contemporary. As a newscaster correctly predicts, "the enormity of this event is something that only history will be able to judge."

Half a billion people watched the moon landing, and that in itself was a great achievement. Beaming back images from the moon was not possible when President John F. Kennedy announced the U.S. would go there within a decade. Following his bold prediction, he is said to have turned to his advisers and said simply, "the details I leave to you."

This CNN film finds the glory in all those details.

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