Movie meddles with moon mission

The movie trailer for “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” remixes the Apollo 11 moon mission to add aliens. It’s definitely fun stuff — the only problem is, some folks just might actually take it seriously.

The teaser for the movie, which is due to premiere next July, blends live-action clips of spacesuit-clad actors, archival footage from the Apollo era and tons of computer-generated graphics to produce an alternate history for the Apollo 11 landing. The result reflects some classic minor mistellings of the tale, such as the timing for the delivery of Neil Armstrong’s famous “one small step” line. And there are fresh embellishments, like … oh, yes, the giant alien spacecraft sitting just a few minutes’ walk from the lunar module.

Of course that’s a clear signal that this is Hollywood fantasy rather than documentary reality. It’s as harmless as the idea that three flies could have hitched a ride with Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin in the movie “Fly Me to the Moon.” For me, the more serious misstep comes when the moviemakers reshuffle Walter Cronkite’s commentary to make it sound as if there really was a 21-minute communication blackout while the astronauts were exploring the moon.

Cronkite was actually referring to a loss of signal while the astronauts were going around the far side of the moon in their command module, well before the landing. The moviemakers spliced in the archival footage to make it sound as if the astronauts were “dark on the rock” during their X-files investigation. Even though that’s totally fictional, it still might leave the audience with the impression that Armstrong and Aldrin were occasionally out of communication while on the surface … which they weren’t.

I can just imagine the 21-minute gap becoming part of the “Ruins on the Moon” myth. Maybe it would have been better to have an actor playing Cronkite, or some other fictional commentator. Or am I taking this way too seriously?

Rob Pearlman delves deeply into the mismatch between fact and fiction on his CollectSpace website. Watch the trailer, check out his article, and then feel free to weigh in with your own view of this latest moon hoax.

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