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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Audio commentary by producer-director Al Reinert and Apollo 17 commander Eugene A. Cernan, the last man to set foot on the Moon
  • Paintings, with audio commentary, by Apollo 12 and Skylab astronaut Alan L. Bean
  • NASA audio highlights and liftoff footage
  • Optional onscreen identification of astronauts and mission control specialists

For All Mankind

2000 Edition
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Al Reinert
1989 | 79 Minutes | Licensor: Apollo Associates

Release Information
DVD | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #54 | Out of print
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: February 15, 2000
Review Date: June 26, 2009

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SYNOPSIS

In July 1969, the space race ended when Apollo 11 fulfilled President Kennedy's challenge of "landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth." No one who witnessed the lunar landing will ever forget it. Breathtaking both in the scope of its vision and the exhilaration of the human emotions it captures, For All Mankind is the story of the 24 men who traveled to the Moon-told in their words, in their voices, using the images of their experiences. Criterion is proud to present Al Reinert's award-winning documentary in a new special edition.

Forum members rate this film 8.4/10

 

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PICTURE

Criterion’s original DVD release of Al Reinert’s presents the film in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this dual-layer disc.

The image found on here is pretty good if not spectacular. While some sequences can look a tad soft around the edges sharpness and detail is still pretty strong and was a nice surprise when I originally saw this disc. The transfer has a few issues with artifacts. While the source materials are grainy (the film is primarily made up of blown up 16mm footage) it doesn’t always look natural and can come off pixilated. Compression artifacts are noticeable in other areas, but are most notable in flames during the launch sequence. Grain looks a little more natural on the new DVD.

The print has its fair share of damage still, presenting plenty of marks, hairs, scratches, and bits of debris. I sort of expected this though now see with the new DVD that it was still open to improvement (the new DVD Criterion released is virtually blemish free.) The picture quality is also limited by how the footage was shot: There are also frame jumps, static, choppy images, though this all has to do with the actual conditions of the shoot.

Not great but I was still happy with it at the time. But the new Criterion DVD and Blu-ray do greatly improve upon the transfer.

6/10

All DVD screen captures are presented in their original size from the source disc. Images have been compressed slightly to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

Criterion includes a Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track, which is surprisingly robust.

It does stick heavily to the fronts, but creates a rather immersive environment. Sound quality is strong, very clean. It’s limited only by the quality of the audio recordings that were made during the missions, but the new recordings are very sharp. Brian Eno’s score sounds grand and does fill out to the surrounds. There are some nice little sound effects thrown in the rears creating an enchanting experience. There’s also a few moments where the surrounds really kick in like the rocket launch, which also makes great use of the woofer.

The new DVD also presents a Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track and it does sound, to me, the same as the one on here. The Blu-ray presents a DTS-HD track that is a bit sharper.

8/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Criterion’s original DVD of For All Mankind included a small collection of supplements that I was more than happy with at the time of its original release.

First is an audio commentary by director Al Reinert and Apollo 17 commander Eugene A. Cernan (the last man to walk on the moon.) The film is only 80-minutes long so it’s a very brief track but no less interesting. The two have been thankfully recorded together and give each other an equal amount of time. Reinert comments mostly on why he made the film (to put the NASA footage taken from the missions on the big screen), putting the film together, which includes the long process of gathering footage and cutting it together, the decision on editing footage from multiple missions together to make it feel like one mission with an “anonymous three man crew.” He also covers the process of blowing up 16mm film and getting around some of the inherent problems in the footage he was dealing with.

Cernan on the other hand talks specifically about the missions, his in particular, and also serves to put the film in context, also pointing out on occasion what mission certain clips are from, or even pointing out some of his fellow astronauts. He gets into the spiritual aspects of flying to the moon and shares his fond memories. Altogether the two provide a quick moving, informative track.

Next on the list of supplements is Astronaut Identification, which is a subtitle feature. The film, as mentioned before, is comprised of footage from an assortment of missions and then edited together to create a single narrative giving the illusion of one lone mission so there’s no mention of who is who throughout the documentary. Criterion has included these subtitles to aid viewers in identifying each individual that shows up on screen. While this does sort of ruin the effect of the film and is not one I recommend using if it’s your first time with the film I still did appreciate its inclusion. One annoyance I had with this feature was you could not view them all at once but instead had to go through them one by one in the index. The new DVD fixes this by adding a “Play All” option.

Paintings From the Moon presents a gallery of paintings by former astronaut Alan Bean, who was the fourth man on the moon. There is a 4-minute audio introduction by Bean, which plays over stills of his paintings. In it he discusses how he went from astronaut to artist and explains how his intentions for his work to capture the spirit of the moon missions as only an astronaut could probably do. You can then go through an index of 32 paintings and view them with an audio description by Bean. In total the audio runs about 48-minutes (give or take.) The paintings are pretty good, though I guess Bean is rather literal. As you go through the paintings you do start to see Bean take more artistic liberties (and newer work displayed on a similar supplement found on the new DVD and Blu-ray show he’s advanced even more.) One thing that should be noted is that while there are a lot of paintings that are the same between the two DVD releases Criterion, for whatever reason, didn’t include all of the ones found on here on the new release instead replacing some with newer works by the artist. I found this odd and suspect maybe Bean requested this but this may be of concern for a few people who are fond of this film and maybe Bean’s work.

NASA Audio Highlights presents 21 clips totaling maybe 7-minutes. These are recordings from transmissions made during the moon missions. There’s a lot of good ones here and there are some famous ones like “one small step…” and “Houston, we have a problem.” A nice little addition worth going through.

Closing off the disc supplements is 3...2…1…Blast off!, a collection of five clips showcasing the various types of rockets launched. These have been divided into 5 chapters and cannot be viewed all at once. In total they run under 2-minutes.

And finally we get an insert with an essay by Reinert further explains the process of making the film, his intentions and the reception of it by astronauts. It’s short but a decent read.

It’s a nice collection of supplements that satisfied a little space geek like me but Criterion’s new DVD carries over just about everything to the new DVD and Blu-ray releases (though not all of Bean’s paintings) and have added a couple of new supplements such as a documentary on the making of the film and a collection of interviews with the astronauts that flew on the missions.

7/10

CLOSING

This DVD was nice for the time but the new Criterion DVD improves upon this one with a sharper transfer and more supplements, and all at a cheaper price. That of course leads me to direct people towards that release. A decent DVD at the time but it’s been bettered.


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