Last Moon Captain Eugene Cernan

Runtime: 1 hour, 36 minutes
Director: Mark Craig
Starring: Eugene Cernan,Alan Bean,Charles Duke
IMDB: 7.4
Genres: Science Fiction, Drama, Adventure, Action
MPAA rating: NR (Not Rated)
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When Apollo astronaut Gene Cernan stepped on the moon in December 1972 he left his footprints and his daughter’s initials in the lunar dust. Now forty years later, he is ready to share his personal story of fulfillment, love and loss.

Best produced space documentary I’ve seen

I’ve been a space junkie since 1968, even applied to be anastronaut–I’ve seen just about every documentary on the space programand read many books. I was really impressed by the way this documentarywas produced. Cernan comes across as a genuine, no-nonsense, sensitive,big- perspective kind of guy. The footage montage is creative, notstaid, and it doesn’t dominate the documentary. The photography isexcellent. I saw this as the best visual story of an astronaut, notjust a moon-walker–or even the last moon-walker–that is availableright now. Every person under 50 should watch this–especially theyoungsters.

Emotionally charged, Gene Cernan’s story, ‘Last Man,’ really does make ‘The Martian’ look like a comedy

On Wednesday, February 24th, scientists detected the origin point of aspace radio signal 6 billion light-years away and managed to find theuniverse’s missing matter as a result. This incredible discovery is astrong reminder of how far we’ve come since 1969, the moment whenApollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong declared the first successfulmission to the Moon as One small step for man, one giant leap formankind. Since Armstrong, twelve men in total have walked on the moonduring the Apollo missions from 1969-1972. Of these 12, Eugene "Gene"Cernan was the last, and the documentary The Last Man on the Moon ishis story.

Cernan’s story is a unique one; a former Navy captain, his journeytowards becoming a NASA astronaut started with a simple phone call. In1961, President John F. Kennedy set the bar high for U.S. spaceexploration, putting pressure on the space program to be the firstcountry to land on the moon. This public assignment given to NASAresulted in an increased demand for anyone willing to participate inthe program, which lead to more opportunities for people like Gene tojoin. Getting his foot in the door was the easy part, he realizes inhindsight. The intense training that each of the aspiring young menendured, including desert survival, water survival, and jungle survivaljust to name a few, was the hard part. The best thing to come from thatexperience, Gene remarks, was the strong bonds he made with the othermen.

His close friendships with his co-workers also made the tough timesalmost unbearable. Two deadly events, the unexpected crash of Gemini 9which claimed the lives of the two pilots in his crew as well as theemotional Apollo 1 fire of 1967, when his neighbor and good friendRoger Chaffee and two other men died as a result of a flash cabin firein the shuttle, shook up Cernan’s world. At the time, he was marriedwith a young daughter and the thought of never seeing his family againwas extremely hard on him. However, when he was selected to be a partof the Apollo 17 crew, NASA’s last mission to the moon, Cernan couldn’tsay no.

Cernan spent three days on the moon. Right before he was about toleave, and knowing that man may not be back on the moon again foryears, he left his footprints and wrote his daughter’s initials in thelunar dust. He describes this moment with such intimacy and detail thatit’s truly humbling to listen to him.

It does not feel like a traditional "documentary-style" film, thanks tothe stylized approach from director Mark Craig as he strikes theperfect balance between the portrayal of Gene’s personal and work life.He cuts between Gene in the present day with archival footage of histime at NASA, which, photographically, feels like a subtle effort torelive his experience. The B-roll of various space missions really doesmake The Martian look like a comedy. The Last Man on the Moon is a topnotch documentary that feels like a perfect fit on the HBO or Showtimeroster. It is humbling, poignant, hard-hitting, and emotionallycharged, on top of being aesthetically rich and visually beautiful.Without giving too much away, I can say that the last shot will takeyour breath away as it did mine.

The Last Man on the Moon is not all happy endings. This is a deeplypersonal film for Cernan which is why it took until now, 40 years sincehis return to earth, to share his story. Now living on a ranch inTexas, Gene still works to this day, as his friends and family admitthat "retirement" is not in his vocabulary. This film and its messageis so important and will leave the viewer feeling inspired from bothGene’s words and actions. Lightheartedly joking that he can’t liveforever, he wants to share his knowledge and experience now because hefeels an obligation to inform the younger generations about man’spotential and inspire hope for the future. "I walked on the moon," hesays at the end of the film, "what can’t you do?"

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Excellent Documentary, Gene is a legend…

I had the privilege of seeing this at its Premiere in the UK atShefields DocFest last Summer.

Being a child of the Apollo Space Program and witnessing the step bystep progress on Mans conquest of the Moon I become easily emotionalthese days to any footage of that magical era.

This Documentary is a well crafted piece of work and I concur with thesentiment of the previous viewer, so I won’t say much more other thanenjoyment is guaranteed.

What really sealed it for me on the day I viewed it was that at the endof the screening Gene Cernan was ushered in from the back of theAuditorium to a standing ovation, and I at last got to meet a realgenuine Space Cowboy after all these decades.

It is mind bogglingly what these guys achieved and this film should beshown to all kids in Schools in a bid to inspire and educate them as towhat can be achieved if one has the will to do it.

Highly recommended

It seems to me that nowadays we are no longer as attuned to, or turnedon by Space Exploration as generations were in times past. It’sprobably not too much of an exaggeration to say it could be seen bymany as ‘old hat’. The reasons for this, I speculate, may be variouslydue to the Un-manned, technically advanced nature of many of today’smissions (which has removed the key human interest element from thestory) as well as our obsession with matters more material or tangible.

This feature length documentary which I watched today was shown as partof the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival. It harks back to thepioneering age when Space Exploration was front and centre in thepublic’s consciousness and for Americans it’s every success wasregarded as a source of intense National pride in their Cold-warSpace-Race against the Soviet Union. Astronauts were routinely andquite rightly feted as All-American heroes. Here was a time when thevarious Apollo missions were a Prime-time ratings winner, transfixingan anxious TV-watching public who tuned in on a daily basis for thelatest updates knowing as they did the inherent danger involved.

I came to this as a casually interested viewer with, at best a passableknowledge of the history of Space Exploration. Without a doubt myinterest has now been piqued. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable documentarywhich deserves to be shown (and seen) on the large screen. Gene Cernanis the hero and focus of this story; he being the last of the 12 men toset foot on the moon. However Gene or any of the other players are notpresented as mere cardboard heroes; instead the very real man as wellas Astronaut is revealed- there is no excess light shown on Gene theastronaut to the exclusion of Gene the man, husband and Father. Forinstance sadness and regret at being away from his daughter forextended periods are juxtaposed with the euphoria of being one of thelucky few to know what it really feels like to get your space-bootscovered in moondust.

The fact that Gene is now in his 80’s as are most of the otherAstronauts featured makes it a timely production and it also lends apoignancy and a gravitas to it. Gene comes across as a proud but verygrounded man capable of making telling insights and being able toreflect meaningfully on his achievements without ever wearing themhaughtily. The contributions from former fellow Astronauts, Missioncontrol commanders and family members by turn combine to create a fulland rounded picture of the man. The Last Man on the Moon is very deftlypaced and well edited. Its shot through with the most amazing andvaried archive footage including everything from amateur home-movies toNASA archived material. When viewed through the prism of today’ssuper-advanced technological times there’s aflying-by-the-seat-of-their-pants feel to much of the Mission controland Space footage which I found fascinating. There’s a greatswinging-sixties soundtrack to boot.

Definitely recommended. One final thought; does anyone else think thatGene Cernan is a ringer for Clint Eastwood?

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