By Kaylee Brewster
The moon is a popular place.
At least it is in movies. In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, here are some movies, from factual to fictional, about our nightly light.
First up are some movies that depict the real-life events that got astronauts to the moon. Or almost got them there.
Before Apollo 11 took off, numerous test pilots had to fly high-speed aircraft for research. “The Right Stuff” depicts the dangerous work these pilots did to help man land on the moon.
“Hidden Figures” tells the story of Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe), African American women who overcame racism and sexism while working for NASA. They are the women who did the math that got the first astronauts safely to the moon.
Another side to the story of the moon landing is from the perspective of the man himself: Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling). “First Man” goes into Armstrong’s personal and professional life, following his journey to become the first man on the moon.
Although the Apollo 13 mission did not land on the moon, the story of its three astronauts, Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks), Fred Haise (Bill Paxton) and Jack Swigert (Kevin Bacon), stranded in space while attempting a moon landing, captivated the world long before it the story was made into a film named after the mission.
Sometimes films take liberties and rewrite history, adding fictional elements. “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” revises the true intention of the Apollo 11 moon landing. A spacecraft carrying a weapon crashes on the moon. This is detected by NASA, which launches the mission to the moon. This story drives the plot as good and bad guy transformers battle for Earth and the moon.
“Iron Sky” imagines a world where Nazis from 1945 managed to escape — to the moon. There, they have built up the “Fourth Reich” over generations and are waiting to take over the Earth from space.
“Apollo 18” takes a horror approach in the form of a found footage documentary. In this version of history, the Apollo 18 mission in 1973 did land on the moon. However, on the lunar landscape astronauts find that someone, or something, was coming after them. The film suggests these attacks are the reason later moon missions were canceled.
“Moonwalkers” is a comedy based on conspiracy theories about the moon landing. The film tells the story of a CIA agent sent to get Stanley Kubrick to fake the moon landing should U.S. astronauts fail, as the mission is seen as necessary to American morale and to defeating Soviet ideology. The film is full of misdirection, drugs and chaos, leaving the audience to speculate as to its accuracy.
Other films focus not on the moon’s past, but what a future on the moon could be like.
Some view the moon as a source of fuel. “Moon” tells the story of a man nearing the end of his stint mining on the moon, as he deals with isolation and hallucinations.
The horror film “Stranded” also deals with mining on the moon, but in this case the crew battles aliens, not personal turmoil.
Stanley Kubrick’s famous 1968 philosophical science fiction flick “2001: A Space Odyssey,” envisions of the future of human life, the moon and space exploration.
There also are plenty of moon films with no basis in reality at all.
The first science fiction film ever made was George Melies’ 1902 movie featuring a group of wizards in “A Trip to the Moon.”
“Wallace and Gromit: A Grand Day Out” features Britain’s favorite cheese-loving duo. The title characters visit the moon — because it’s made of cheese, obviously.
In “Despicable Me,” the villain-turned-hero plans to pull off the best heist in history — stealing the moon — until some girls get in his way.
WHERE TO STREAM:
Amazon Prime: “Iron Sky,” “Stranded,” “Wallace and Gromit: A Grand Day Out”
Netflix: “Apollo 18,” “Moonwalkers,” “Moon”
HBO Now: “Despicable Me”
Starz: “Apollo 13”
FXNow: “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”