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Review: Apollo 11: Quarantine (Digital Release)

February 16, 2021

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

In 2019, for the fiftieth anniversary of the 1969 moon landing, director and editor Todd Douglas Miller delivered Apollo 11, a documentary that brilliantly assembled never before seen archival footage of the event into a compelling narrative feature.

Now Miller has returned to this historic event, or, rather, the aftermath of it, in Apollo 11: Quarantine. This short sequel of sorts, which is being released digitally today, observes the 21 day quarantine that astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins were put in following their return from the lunar surface.

Like its predecessor, Apollo 11: Quarantine plays out exclusively through a collection of beautifully restored archival footage, that allows us to observe this historic event with a newfound sense of immediacy. It begins following the return trip, and opens with footage of the lunar module on the surface of the water. We watch as the outside of the metal structure is sprayed with a decontaminate, before the three astronauts are pulled out onto a raft.

The film uses title cards to count down the 21 days, showing us footage of the astronauts being transported to Houston, where they will spend the remainder of the time in isolation being closely monitored by medical professionals. At every stop, they are met by marching bands and patriotic spectators hoping to get a glimpse of the astronauts through the window of the secure metal trailer they are in. This footage is just as enjoyable to see as the memorable images of the crowds gathered for the actual launch in Apollo 11.

While it obviously lacks the narrative thrust of the feature film, this short documentary, which is roughly 23 minutes in length, serves as a fine continuation of it. It’s a decent epilogue for those wanting to see more of this footage, and the release has been cleverly timed to coincide with the ongoing COVID-19 quarantines that many of us still find ourselves in.

Apollo 11: Quarantine is now available for purchase on iTunes and Apple TV. It’s being distributed in Canada by Elevation Pictures.

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