For All Mankind (1989)

for all mankind poster 1989 movie
9.0 Overall Score

Visually amazing and captures the essence of the time and adventure

Better streamlining of the missions

Movie Info

Movie Name: For All Mankind

Studio: Apollo Associates

Genre(s): Documentary

Release Date(s): May 19, 1989

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

for all mankind apollo lift off

“To the moon, Alice!!!”

On September 12, 1962, John F. Kennedy made a challenge to NASA.  He spoke of the desire and effort to send man into space and land on the moon.  On July 20, 1969, that dream was released when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped off the Apollo 11 lunar module Eagle onto the rocky surface.  Through the story of the astronauts involved and footage of their history making flight, the story of man’s quest for the moon is told…and seen in ways never before seen.

Directed by Al Reinert, For All Mankind is a documentary adventure film.  The film largely tells the story of the Apollo 11 moon landing through footage and interviews.  The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.  The Criterion Collection released a remastered version of the film (Criterion #54).

The space flights were all over by the time I was born, but they were still fresh in people’s minds.  Tang for breakfast, space ice cream at museums, and movies like The Right Stuff immortalized the events for people even born after the landing.  Going back with documentaries like this and 2019’s Apollo 11, you get to hear some of the wonder and see and experience a little of what the astronauts were feeling…and it is a good thing to remember how revolutionary what they did was.

for all mankind space walk

Wow…it’s just like Moonraker

History can slip through your fingers, and For All Mankind recognized this.  Al Reinert began interviewing astronauts in 1976 with the forward thinking that their experiences should be recorded and saved.  Hearing the first hand reports from the astronauts is an interesting way to experience the space missions.  It can be imperfect since time can alter views, but the events live in their minds in a way that feels natural.  While Apollo 11 kind of told the story in a less traditional means, the narration and talking over video feels a bit more like a traditional documentary.

What is amazing about the movie is the clarity of the film.  Many people have seen the grainy “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” video of the Apollo 11 landing, but this film gives the movie new perspective.  The images of space are sharp and clean and look like they could have been shot last week instead of over fifty years ago.  It presents not only the trip to the moon in a fashion that you might not have thought about but the moon itself as the astronauts get to explore like kids for the first time.

for all mankind flag on moon

Make this flag look good…Future generations watching MTV will count on it

It is the zeal by the astronauts that helps you enjoy the movie.  The moon has been their dream and their life for decades when they landed on it.  At the time, they were young and it is easy to forget that.  You get to see them goofing off and talking like it is…including Michael Collins who had to stay back at the command module while his copilots made history by stepping on the moon.

For All Mankind is a solid documentary and great companion piece to the newer Apollo 11.  Between both documentaries, you start to get a real feel for what it must have been like (the excitement and fear) of entering the unknown.  I wish that the different missions had been streamlined a bit more in the documentary, but the concept of the film is about the accomplishment.  The idea of looking out a window and seeing nothing…not sky, but nothing is amazing and terrifying.  See For All Mankind and see a group of men who did something that many believed was impossible…and someday, I hope we’ll get to see it again.

Related Links:

Apollo 11 (2019)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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