In the Shadow of the Moon appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. With its mix of new interviews and archival footage, Shadow was acceptable for this sort of program.
As always, I viewed the old material and the new shots with different expectations. The archival stuff jumped all over the place. It could look pretty good at times, but we also got a lot of messy, ugly clips. I didnít have any real problems with those, however, as I figured they were about as good as we could get. In any case, the flaws of the old bits didnít interfere with my enjoyment of the program. They blended just fine and didnít cause distractions.
Overall, the new footage looked good. Sharpness was usually fine, though some elements could become a bit fuzzy at times. Those instances werenít major, though, and the interviews generally appeared concise. Colors were reasonably natural, though not particularly lively. No notable defects affected the new footage. Blacks and shadows followed suit, as they seemed decent but unexceptional. Overall, the visuals were acceptable for this kind of show.
By the way, kudos to the filmmakers for keeping the archival footage in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Too many modern programs choose to crop clips to match the 1.78:1 dimensions of widescreen TVs, so Iím happy to see that the folks behind Shadow resisted that temptation.
Unlike the material for most documentaries, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Shadow was pretty lively. The soundfield opened up the material to a surprising extent, especially in terms of effects. Rocket launches used the side and rear speakers well and better immersed us in the action. Other environmental elements came from those channels, and music featured nice stereo imaging. These pieces fit into the package well.
Audio quality was solid. The new interview comments sounded just fine, as they offered perfectly acceptable clarity. No issues with edginess or intelligibility occurred, as they provided warm and natural tones. Music and effects also demonstrated good range and definition. This mix did enough right to earn a ďBď.
How did the picture and sound of this Blu-ray compare to the 2008 DVD? Audio remained very similar, as the lossless DTS mix didnít do anything significant to improve upon its predecessor. Mastered at a rather low level, I had to turn up the volume louder than normal, and that tended to rob the audio of some impact.
Visuals demonstrated decent improvements, though. Obviously, the problems with archival material still appeared, but those clips demonstrated a bit more clarity, and the interview shots boasted superior definition. The nature of the documentary meant the Blu-ray wasnít a stunning step up in quality, but it did fare better than its predecessor.
Both discs include the same extras. We start with an audio commentary from director David Sington, editor David Fairhead, and archive producer Chris Riley. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific chat. They discuss editing and the filmís construction, sound and music, interviewing the astronauts and impressions of them, cinematography, aspects of the archival footage, and some historical background.
While not exactly a fascinating commentary, this one proves reasonably useful. It can become awfully dry at times, but it throws out some good tidbits. I like the footnotes about the archival material and the thoughts about editing and assembling the project. This isnít a great chat, but it deserves a listen.
We can watch the movie with or without an Introduction from Ron Howard. In this one-minute and 33-second clip, Howard gives us a brief overview of the film. Itís pleasant but not essential in any way.
18 Bonus Interviews and Stories fill a total of 57 minutes and 24 seconds. Across these we hear from the various astronauts as they discuss topics like their military service, the progress of the space race, and their experiences in the program. These snippets look like they came out of a ďfinishedĒ version of the movie since they come with archival footage, so they donít just provide raw interview shots. I donít get the impression they were dropped for content-related reasons, as theyíre uniformly interesting. Perhaps they wouldíve made the final product drag, but taken here, they offer lots of good comments and information.
In particular, some reflections on the astronautsí mindset are fascinating. They talk about the personal toll their jobs took on their families and their mental states, and Collins offers a great glimpse of what the astronauts always showed so little emotion. I really like this collection of interviews.
Two featurettes follow. Scoring Apollo lasts 11 minutes, 12 seconds and includes notes from composer Philip Sheppard. He tells us a little about his development as a musician as well as aspects of his score for Moon. We also see parts of the recording sessions. This ends up as a decent look at the movieís music.
Ron Howard: Inspired By Apollo runs six minutes, 34 seconds and provides remarks from Howard. He talks about his experiences with astronauts and his thoughts about Moon. Howard doesnít tell us much in this fairly fluffy appreciation. A trailer finishes the package.
Though many documentaries and feature films have examined the space program over the years, its concentration solely on the words of actual astronauts makes In the Shadow of the Moon unusual and special. The piece offers a great perspective on their experiences and remains consistently fascinating. The Blu-ray presents fairly good picture and audio along with some interesting extras highlighted by almost an hour of bonus interviews.
I like this film very much but find it hard to advocate the purchase of this Blu-ray, at least for folks who already have the original DVD. If you donít own Moon at all, then grab this release; itís reasonably priced and quite enjoyable. But even with that low MSRP, I donít think the Blu-ray offers enough of an upgrade for those who own the DVD.
To rate this film visit the original review of IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON