NPR

Hollywood Shoots The Moon: 117 Years Of Lunar Landings At The Movies

Motion pictures went to the moon long before Apollo 11 did, and they keep going back. Critic Bob Mondello reflects on the many films, from 1902 to today, that have made the journey.
Neil Armstrong tests out his spacesuit and camera in April 1969, three months before he would actually set foot on the moon. Source: NASA/Project Apollo Archive

As a college sophomore, I knew exactly what the Apollo astronauts would find when they arrived on the moon: a desolate rockscape, craters shining white in reflected earthglow — and a big, black monolith.

Stanley Kubrick showed us all of that in the top-grossing movie of 1968 — 2001: A Space Odyssey — a full 15 months before Neil Armstrong took his giant leap for mankind. And even Kubrick was late to the party: Moviegoers had been heading moonward from pretty much the moment there were filmmakers to lead the way.

In 1902, Georges Méliès led an expedition in the 13-minute, one of the first films

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from NPR

NPR2 min readPolitics
Seized Iranian Ship Steams From Gibraltar After U.S. Loses Legal Fight
The vessel, which was intercepted by British Royal Marines on July 4, left Gibraltar after a court there ruled that it had no authority to enforce U.S. sanctions against Iran.
NPR5 min readPolitics
Trolled Online, Women In Politics Fight To Hold Big Tech Accountable In The U.K.
The move in Europe to get tough on tech is partly thanks to an awakening that began with the experiences of women in politics.
NPR4 min readPolitics
U.S. And The Taliban May Be Near A Deal. What Does That Mean For Afghanistan?
The Afghan government has been left on the sidelines as the U.S. and the Taliban have held multiple rounds of talks this year in the Gulf nation of Qatar.