From the Earth to the Moon (1998)


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Documentary Description

From the Earth to the Moon is a twelve-part HBO television miniseries (1998) co-produced by Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, Tom Hanks, and Michael Bostick detailing the landmark Apollo expeditions to the Moon during the 1960s and early 1970s. Largely based on Andrew Chaikin's book, A Man on the Moon, the series is known for its accurate telling of the story of Apollo and outstanding special effects. The series takes its title from, but is not based upon, the famous Jules Verne science fiction novel, From the Earth to the Moon. The last episode of the series begins with a look at the making of Georges Méliès' film based upon the book.

Integration with existing films

The miniseries, concentrating on the Apollo space program, was produced with an intent to not repeat other dramatic portrayals of events of the space race. Project Mercury, which was portrayed in the film The Right Stuff, was briefly summarized in the first episode. Miniseries producers Hanks, Howard and Grazer, who had previously produced Apollo 13, deliberately shot the episode We Interrupt This Program from the perspective of the media covering that flight, as the film had already covered the story from the point of view of the crew and the mission control team.


The series won both an Emmy Award and a Golden Globe Award for best miniseries in 1998.


The episodes of the series are:

1. Can We Do This? - Depicts the early events of the space race from the perspective of NASA, including the decision to send men to the moon. Briefly covers the Mercury and Gemini programs along with reconstructions of the flight of Alan Shepard (Freedom 7), first American spacewalk (Gemini 4) and the Gemini 8 near-disaster.

2. Apollo One - Concentrates attention on the Apollo 1 fire and subsequent investigation. The episode focuses on several key individuals, including Harrison Storms of North American Aviation, Joseph Shea of NASA, and Frank Borman of the astronaut office, all of whom were involved in the investigation.

3. We Have Cleared the Tower - Follows a fictional documentary team covering the preparation for the flight of Apollo 7. Although a well-received episode, some criticism occurred over the episode's ending with the launch of the mission, and failing to delve into the difficulties between Apollo 7's crew and Mission Control during the mission.

4. 1968 - Including actual documentary footage of political events in the United States during the year 1968, this episode depicts the first manned lunar flight (Apollo 8). Much of the story is told from the point of view of Frank Borman's wife, Susan, and is shot in black and white, with the only exceptions being newsreel footage of news events, and the dramatized action in the spacecraft. Also depicts the Apollo 8 Genesis reading.

5. Spider - Focuses on the development of the Lunar Module and its first manned flights during Apollo 9 and Apollo 10, from the point of view of both the crew of Apollo 9 as well as the Grumman design team headed by Tom Kelly.

6. Mare Tranquilitatis - A dramatization of the first moon landing (Apollo 11), with flashback sequences to a television interview between the Apollo 11 crew and fictional broadcaster Emmett Seaborn. The title Mare Tranquilitatis refers to the actual landing site of the mission.

7. That's All There Is - The story of Lunar Module Pilot Alan Bean and his experiences on the Apollo 12 mission. The episode is a lighthearted depiction of the most tight-knit crew to serve on an Apollo mission.

8. We Interrupt This Program - Depicts the television media's point of view concerning the 'successful failure' of Apollo 13. The episode avoids comparison with the movie Apollo 13 by focusing entirely on Earthbound events, and adds a fictional subplot about the rivalry between a veteran TV news reporter who appears throughout the whole mini-series, and a young upstart.

9. For Miles and Miles - Tells the story of the return to flight status of Alan Shepard and his mission to the moon on Apollo 14. The title refers to Alan Shepard's famous golf swing on the lunar surface.

10. Galileo Was Right - Focuses on the training the Apollo astronauts undertook to become geologists on the Moon's surface, specifically the Apollo 15 astronauts. The contributions of scientists Lee Silver, Harrison "Jack" Schmitt and Farouk El-Baz are highlighted. The title refers to Galileo Galilei and his theory that gravity would cause bodies of differing masses to fall at the same rate in a vacuum. This idea was demonstrated by Dave Scott in an experiment recreated for the episode.

11. The Original Wives Club - The story of Apollo from the point of view of the wives who had to endure the pressures of the media and the dangers of spaceflight at home, framed by the Apollo 16 mission.

12. Le Voyage dans la Lune - Intercuts the story of the last Apollo mission, Apollo 17, with French film maker Georges Méliès's vision of a trip to the moon from his early 20th century film also entitled Le Voyage dans la Lune.



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