Skip to main content

Curator's Choice Video Collection

Cradle of Aviation Museum Historian and Curator, Josh Stoff, curates interesting short YouTube videos and provides commentary.

Virtual Museum Home > Curator's Choice > One Small Step

One Small Step
YouTube Channel: Movieclips, posted Feb 22, 2019

As we all know (I hope) we have recently completed celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing, that occurred on July 20, 1969.

The spacecraft that landed on the Moon that day, the Lunar Module, was built by the Grumman Aircraft Corporation of Bethpage, Long Island. This was not only the most important vehicle ever built on Long Island, but it was also one of the most important machines ever built by man. Every spacecraft that landed men on the Moon was built by the hands of Long Islanders. The ungainly looking Lunar Module, needing no aerodynamic qualities whatsoever, is one of the best examples of form following function. When people land on the Moon again, and they will, echoes of the Grumman Lunar Module will be seen in whatever spacecraft gets them there. 

The 2018 film “First Man”, starring Ryan Gosling, is a biopic based on the life of Neil Armstrong, who made those historic first steps on the Moon over 50 years ago. The film depicts Armstrong’s test pilot career and his rise through the NASA ranks to ultimately become Commander of the first lunar landing. First Man received generally positive reviews, however, it was considered a box office disappointment.

Among the strongest, most accurate, scenes in the film (I believe), is the one that shows Armstrong’s first hesitant steps on the Moon. The depiction of the Lunar Module, the spacesuit, even the dialogue, are dead-on accurate. We see Armstrong pull the handle to lower the pallet on the outside of the Lunar Module that contained the tools and camera, and he has the strap attached to him that was later used to convey rock boxes back inside. The views of the Lunar surface are sensational both in the lighting, surface texture, and the accurate landscape. This scene was filmed in a rock quarry at night with a re-created lunar surface and a 200,000 watt light to duplicate the effect of sunlight on the surface. The scene was refreshingly accurate considering it came after the generally inaccurate lunar landing scene. I also enjoyed that amazing moment, when the hatch first opens, and Armstrong and Aldrin gaze out upon the alien landscape, realizing they are about to become the first human beings to set foot on another world.

The Cradle of Aviation Museum has the world's best collection of Lunar Modules and components and the Apollo 11 landing site is also re-created in its Space Exploration gallery.

So let's make ‘one small step’ with Neil Armstrong in 2018’s First Man.