"A well-told, informative film that captures the essence of the Space Program. Using the perspectives of the astronauts, their wives, cosmonauts as well as engineers and journalists, this documentary tells how the Apollo team accomplished the aggressive goal of reaching the moon and how this historical mission touched their lives.
Those interested in the space program, history and quality films will find this is a must watch."
There really is a Santa Claus
Dsinned | Northern California | 09/15/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"An interesting documentary with excellent coverage specifically of Apollo 8, the first and overwhelmingly successful manned mission to orbit the Moon. This DVD runs slightly under 60 minutes, however there are about another 30 minutes or so of deleted scenes provided as extra features on the disc.
For a home entertainment DVD version of the original broadcast on TV, as a part of the ongoing PBS series, the American Experience, I do not understand why the publisher did not simply include all the scenes (uneditted) and make this a 90 minute feature. All deleted scenes are completely relevant to the storyline and likely be of keen interest to the average viewer.
I particularly liked the deleted scene with Astronaut Bill Anders explaining his first sighting of the Moon (closeup, just prior to going into orbit) while it was still in total darkness (Double Umbra).
The many additional interviews with the other Astronauts, Jim Lovell, the Command Module Pilot, and Frank Borman, Mission Commander, their wives and Mission Controllers, TV commentators (Walter Cronkite) and space historians, and their reflections of the event, were also very interesting.
There was an interview with Frank Borman's wife, Susan, that reveals at one point during the mission while her husband was already orbiting the Moon, she insisted on knowing what the astronauts' chances were for a successful return to Earth. Kris Craft, head of Houston Mission Control, gave her his honest opinion, as no better than 50-50.
The pictures of the Earth from a quarter million miles away are breathtaking, as is true of most other movies about the Apollo program. My favorite is of the "crescent" Earth as scene from outer space, as opposed to a fully illuminated sphere. I find such photos to be absolutely stunning; truly awe inspiring.
In summary this DVD is well worth viewing and the successful mission of Apollo 8 is still quite remarkable and truly inspiring. Forget about the political motives that encouraged the space race with the Russians, a course set for the nation by President Kennedy. This event was truly risk taking in its finest form, and a spectacular historical accomplishment for all mankind, particularly NASA on behalf of the American flag.
This and subsequent U.S. manned space flights to the Moon, notably Apollo 11, the first lunar surface landing, will forever be imbedding in any proud to be an Americans' mind who lived through that unforgettable era. This DVD will surely bring back those fond memories, and renew your faith in American pride."
Includes Seldom-Told Details About the Apollo 8 Flight
Jan Peczkis | Chicago IL, USA | 03/01/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This video captures the drama of the daring Apollo 8 flight. Never before had humans ventured more than 850 miles from Earth. Now they were going 230,000 miles to the moon and back. This DVD includes simulations, actual footage from the flight, and recollections from the now-elderly crew.
Instead of repeating other reviewers, I now focus on seldom-mentioned facts. Frank Borman got sick, and there was concern about the entire crew coming down with a virus and becoming incapacitated. Fortunately, this didn't happen. Then the midcourse-correction burn hinted at a possible problem with the service-module engine. Should it be trusted for the lunar-insertion-burn and especially for the mandatory trans-Earth injection burn? It was. The cut segments of the DVD indicated the danger of collision of the spacecraft and the just-abandoned spent third stage of the Saturn V rocket. The CSM maneuvered away from it. Finally, not long before re-entry, Lovell made an error which wiped out the navigational data in the system. Fortunately, it was corrected in time.
The DVD alludes to the unmanned Soviet Zond flights around the moon and back (carrying turtles and some other live cargo) in September and November 1968. So Apollo 8 was moved up to December 1968 in anticipation of an impending manned circumlunar Soviet flight. It later turned out that the re-entries of the Zond spacecraft were incorrectly aimed, and this would have killed any human in them. For this reason, the Soviets didn't feel ready to attempt the manned circumlunar flight. Once the US took the lead, they never did--instead pretending that they never intended to go to the moon. Former Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov (the first man to walk in space; Ed White was the second) described the letters of indignation which came from Soviet citizens who complained about the Americans being allowed to pull ahead in the space race.
Blair Christensen | 12/16/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the one you want. I only saw it once, but it's graceful and perceptive writing stuck with me. This mission changed the perception of the whole human race. PBS is currently showing something called 'Apollo 8: Christmas at the Moon', telling the same story but distinctly inferior. It's like their primary goal was to include every available interview clip. "
Michael Smith | 03/21/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Race To The Moon takes the viewer inside the emotions and thoughts of those who rode with Apollo 8 on its epic voyage to the moon. Accompanying the crew's story are the fresh insights from the wives, which adds a human dimension that astronauts usually struggle to convey. The wives portray the drama of this flight across the unknown with an honest and raw account of what it was like for them to live through the emotionally draining journey. This documentary captures the full scope of an Apollo mission - from the crews perspective and from those the left behind.
Apollo 8 was a political gamble that produced an engineering triumphant and the unexpected stirring of the human spirit. The documentary deals with the spiritual and human aspects of witnessing the first earth rise above the lunar horizon. Race To The Moon tells the story Apollo 8 from the political, technical, emotional and spiritual perspectives, capturing the drama of the most significant event of human exploration - the first journey from the earth to the moon."