EARTHRISE, directed by Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee, tells the story of the three Apollo 8 astronauts as they embark on their 1968 mission to space. Their mission, quite simply: go round the moon, and get back alive. EARTHRISE has been on the festival circuit for around a year, and was included within Cambridge Film Festival’s ‘Space Day’ this year.

The film begins with a clip from Face The Nation – self-described as a ‘spontaneous and unrehearsed news interview’ – in which we are first introduced to the Apollo 8 astronauts: Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders. The men are now posed as icons in the USA, having been the first to successfully orbit the moon. EARTHRISE deals with this great breakthrough fantastically, as the men recount the ‘grandeur’ of what they had seen, and the psychological wrench it had on them, quite often stating they thought they ought to be poets to have told their story correctly.

The title of the film is derived from the famous photograph, taken by the Apollo 8 astronauts, of the earth rising over the moon’s horizon. As the movie comes to a close, it informs us that only 24 astronauts have experienced this same view. In it’s beguiling depiction of space the vast blackness, heightened by the dimly lit screening room, entrances the spectator and does a fine job at replicating how it must feel to see that same sight.

As the crew capture ‘Apollo 8 home movies’, we see excerpts from their television transmissions from space, and marvel at the expert way they navigate the spacecraft. There are few humorous quips on the reality of experiencing a lunar horizon for the first time; and how dull capturing endless images of the craters of the moon can be, after the initial wonder has faded. The quick insight into the psychological impacts exiting the earth’s atmosphere can have on a man was greatly appreciated, as this is a topic often left untouched, or wholly ignored by the general public.

At only 30 minutes long, EARTHRISE is deeply impactful and educational, offering a euphoric and profound experience. It’s also a sobering reminder of just how small we are, in the grand scheme of things – and a blissful portrayal of just how far we’ve come.

You can watch EARTHRISE below:

Earthrise from The New York Times on Vimeo.

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