This Saturday night Vivian and I had dinner with Adam, Spencer, and Sarah at Spencer and Sarah’s place. Dinner was delicious grillins: salmon, portobello mushrooms, prawns, and asparagus, with chocolate dipped strawberries, pears and cheese, and a lovely salad.
Spence then treated us to three super-eight silent films: Charlie Chaplin’s early “Easy Street“, in what I believe to have been an untrimmed Blackhawk release of the film; the late George Méliès feature “Conquest of the North Pole“, which felt a bit choppy and I suspect was missing scenes by the time Blackhawk struck the print of it that Spencer has (real media clips: one, two); and what appeared to be an early seventies print of a film likely intended for educational distribution, “Apollo 11 Man on Moon”, which was as tersely subtitled as it is titled.
While I was unable to find a specific reference to this super 8 film on the web, I did find this interesting page on the Apollo era.
Spencer accompanied each film with an appropriate soundtrack; in the case of the Apollo film, he chose the complete “Lux Aeterna”, which was also employed by Kubrick in “2001: A Space Odyssey” in the scene in which the lunar monolith emits a loud radio signal in the presence of an investigative team of spacesuited Americans.
The film print was very faded, gone to oranges and reds, as color stock from hat period is wont to do, and additionally had the wear of many years on it. The footage shot on the surface of the moon itself is already of a grainy texture (the cameras and gear employed were primitive solid-state video gear, and the visual quality is rough, very primitive in appearance). Employing “Lux Aeterna” as the soundtrack of the film enhanced the odd, alien quality of the film: it was like observing a transmission from a culture of the distant past, lost down the ages.
Watching, it seemed truly impossible that less than forty years had passed since that day in July of 1969. For many years I had identified my memory of watching the moon landing on our 12-inch back and white television in Valaparaiso, Chilé as my first memory. Of course, the events we were watching occurred well within living memory. Yet, it seems as unlikely today as it did in 1947 that we will ever again see humans setting foot on the soil of other worlds. That is simply a shame, and a failure of the mechanics by which we maintain culture and commerce.