Films to celebrate Apollo 50th

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission and the landing on the moon.

The film Apollo 11 (dir. Todd Douglas Millar) which premiered in Sundance earlier this year is being screened in many cinemas around the world, alongside other moon themed films. I wanted to screen Apollo 11 in Louvre Abu Dhabi, but there were delays in getting the screening rights despite having a local distributor based in Dubai.

I then thought the film would probably get released in cinemas here this week or this month, but alas, nothing yet. In fact, not a single cinema in Dubai programmed a special film screening to celebrate this anniversary, which feels like a lack of awareness and/or a missed opportunity. Most of the cinemas here are just busy promoting The Lion King this week.

This made me think of what films I would like to show to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing and I shared a list on Twitter. I then decided to write more about this here.

If I had my way, I’d show the following films:

Le Voyage Dans La Lune / A Trip To The Moon
(Georges Méliès, 1902)

Inspired by Jules Verne's novels From the Earth to the Moon and Around the Moon, this short film from 1902 is one of the earliest science fiction film and never fails to delight.


Frau im Mond / Woman In The Moon
(Fritz Lang, 1929)

Described as “the first film to portray space-exploration in a serious manner”, I have yet to see this film and hope one day I get to watch it on the big screen.

A tri-polar potboiler of a picture that manages to combine espionage tale, serial melodrama, and comic-book sci-fi into a storyline that is by turns delirious, hushed, and deranged.

In this, Lang’s final silent epic, the legendary filmmaker spins a tale involving a wicked cartel of spies who co-opt an experimental mission to the moon in the hope of plundering the satellite s vast (and highly theoretical) stores of gold. via Amazon


رحلة إلى القمر / Rihla Ila Al Qamar / Journey to the Moon
(Hamada Abdel Wahab, 1959)

I first mentioned this film a few years ago in a post about looking for Arab sci-fi films. This Egyptian film might be the first Arab film about a mission to the moon (please correct me if I’m wrong), albeit an accidental one as it happens in this film.

Starring cinema heartthrob Rushdi Abaza and everyone’s favourite comedian Ismael Yasin, this film is pure B-movie material, and is a blend of sci-fi, romance, comedy and even a dance number. I watched it on YouTube today. It’s not the best quality of the film, but it’s the only way for me to see it.


Nude on the Moon
(Raymond Phelan, Doris Wishman, 1961)

This is another film I haven’t seen, but would love to dig deep into this genre of sci-fi sexploitation.


Pervye na Lune / First on the Moon
(Aleksey Fedorchenko, 2005) 

This film is described as “By means of archival footage, this mockumentary ‘reconstructs’ how the Russians secretly realised the first manned flight to the moon as early as the 1930s.”.

This too is a film I’ve not seen before, but another different genre added to this list, to compare and contrast with the rest of the films.


(Duncan Jones, 2009)

I first saw this film almost 10 years ago at the now mostly defunct Dubai International Film Festival. I’ve included it in this list for the sole selfish reason of wanting to see it again.


The Lebanese Rocket Society
(Joana Hadjithomas, Khalil Joreige, 2012)

A retelling of an almost forgotten history of the short lived space project in Lebanon.

From 1960 to 1966, a space project was undertaken in Lebanon. Several rockets, which became larger and more powerful with time, were launched from the hills surrounding Beirut by a group of scientists, university students and army experts. This group, led by Manoug Manougian, was called: The Lebanese Rocket Society.

The film recalls the optimism and excitement of an Arab country trying to make its mark in the space program and the sad demise of it all.


Iron Sky
(Timo Vuorensola, 2012)

The Nazis set up a secret base on the dark side of the moon in 1945 where they hide out and plan to return to power in 2018.”

The dark side of the mood in this film is sinister and evil. The only reason I want to see and share this film with a wider audience is because it stars Udo Kier.