Directed by Todd Douglas Miller
When the film Apollo 11 was released in 2019, I was honestly blown away by it as a document of that famed space mission. Culling hours of archival footage, the film not only looked pristine, but it sounded incredible and pieced together a soaring, nerve-wracking, joyous and jubilant story without the use of talking heads. It was simple, raw, beautiful. The restoration team truly produced one of the most visually striking and emotionally rewarding films of the year, let along documentaries. Fast forward to 2021, and the same production team is unearthing a little more footage, presumably from the same project. This epilogue of sorts to Apollo 11 is a short film, with a svelte 24 minute run time, recapping the 21 day quarantine the astronauts were forced to endure upon returning to Earth. With no knowledge of what objects, bacteria, etc. they may have encountered on the lunar surface during their history making journey, NASA wanted to take as many precautions as possible with their return and their health.
What is fascinating about this project is the timing. In a time where the whole world just endured the COVID-19 pandemic, and in fact are still enduring, mostly under quarantine’s of our own, there is much to relate to when it comes to Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin. While we may not be contained in fancy Airstreams with the attention of the country and world on us, the isolation and not being able to see and touch friends and family is certainly resonate. But the energy is completely different with this crew. It’s one of joy and accomplishment. A welcome and voluntary quarantine, knowing that the worst is behind them, the best coming in 21 days when they can see and touch loved ones once more. For all of us still observing strict quarantine for our safety and the safety of others, there is no end in sight. We have hope, but no assurances.
The images may not be as majestic, but they are no less pristine in their beauty. And as with these astronauts, though we may not know when the end of this quarantine will come, it will be equally joyous and celebratory whenever it is we can end it, as we will have endured. We will have sacrificed a great deal for the better of the country and world. We will have seen the worst of it, and come out the other end. I know I for one have come to appreciate much more the little things in life that we all were likely taking for granted. When I come out of quarantine, I am going to go on vacation and travel, I am going to get together with friends and catch up on all the nothing we have been doing, I am going to visit family I haven’t seen in too long, I am going to dine out again instead of just getting take out, go to a sporting event. I am going to go see a movie in a movie theater. It will be a thrill. It will be a celebration. And while Apollo 11: Quarantine may lack the grandeur of that 2019 film, and while it may seem like watching three guys sitting in an Airstream for 21 days, I can assure you there is relevance in this film in 2021.