In the '60s, reaching the moon meant not only science but also politics — a space race between the United States and the Soviet Union, which the U.S. won when Neil Armstrong walked the moon on July 20, 1969.
This year has brought another space race: between two documentaries on NASA's Apollo missions.
The Wonder of It All screens Sunday at the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival.
British-made In the Shadow of the Moon, which has been picked up by Hollywood heavyweight Ron Howard in partnership with ThinkFilm, opened last month in limited release.
Astronauts and filmmakers say there's room for two films with similar yet different approaches.
"Shadow will blow us away in theaters with its cleaned-up space footage," said Wonder director Jeffrey Roth of Los Angeles, who had little money and a small crew he calls "the garage band of filmmakers."
Yet he thinks his film is more personal and emotional.
"It does seem to stick with people because they get more of a sense of who these guys were — and are."
Twelve Americans left footprints on the lunar surface during six landings from 1969 to 1972. Three — Alan Shepard, Pete Conrad and James Irwin — have died.
Of the other nine, all but Armstrong, who's long shunned the spotlight, were interviewed on camera for one or both films. Because these men are in their 70s, they reflect on the voyage having had decades to process it.
"We've long since taken off the silver suit and helmet," said Eugene Cernan, the last man to walk the moon on Apollo 17. "We're no longer invincible — we're grandfathers. We've mellowed and gotten nostalgic."
Other moonwalkers interviewed are Apollo 12's Alan Bean; Apollo 16's John Young and Charles Duke Jr.; Apollo 11's Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin; Apollo 15's David Scott; Apollo 14's Edgar Mitchell of Lake Worth; and Apollo 17's Harrison Schmitt. All but Scott, who's just in Shadow, appear in both films.
Most are humble and grateful about the history they made. Bean says in Wonder, "I'd like to be remembered as the guy who did his duty."
"We didn't talk to each other much about our feelings back then," Cernan said. "We were macho. We were above that. But these films forced us to reflect. It's good to share that before we're gone."
Although Shadow has "more action parts" via archival footage, Wonder "also is well done," said Duke, who thinks such films fill a void.
"There haven't been many movies on what we did," he said. "Apollo 13 was probably the best, and HBO's From the Earth to the Moon and the IMAX documentary Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon also are good."
This weekend at FLIFF The 22nd annual Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival runs through Nov. 11; screenings take place at Cinema Paradiso, 503 SE Sixth St., Fort Lauderdale; and the Rose & Alfred Miniaci Performing Arts Center at Nova Southeastern University, 3100 Ray Ferrero Jr. Blvd., Davie. Most screenings $5-$8; visit fliff.com or call 954-525-3456. For additional coverage, visit Sun-Sentinel.com/fliff.
Today at Cinema Paradiso
10 and 11:30 a.m. Legend of Sasquatch (free)
1 p.m. Keepers of Eden w/Creature From Outer Space
3 p.m. Lost and Found in Mexico w/My Nose
5 p.m. Dot.com w/ Business Johnson
7 p.m. Two Tickets to Paradise
9 p.m. On the Doll
Sunday at Miniaci
11 a.m. Bridge on the River Kwai (free)
2 p.m. Autism: The Musical
4 p.m. The Wonder of It All
6 p.m. Reservations
8 p.m. RequiemCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times