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The Last Man on the Moon 

Wednesday, Feb 24 2016

Mark Craig's engaging documentary The Last Man on the Moon is both an elegy for the long-defunct Apollo space program and a look at the personal toll it took on those involved. Genial old coot Gene Cernan discusses how he became an astronaut and — after the tease of being in the Apollo 10 mission to do everything but land on the moon — finally set foot on its surface in 1972 during Apollo 17, NASA's final voyage to Earth's natural satellite. Although rightfully proud of his accomplishments, Cernan's regret is palpable as he looks back on the degree to which he neglected his family. He describes himself as "selfish" more than once and clearly wonders if it was all worth it, particularly since it led to the breakup of his first marriage. (He wasn't alone: 60 percent of astronauts got divorced.) Indeed, the true heart of the film is Cernan's relationship with his daughter, whose initials he wrote in the lunar dust — which, aww! — and there's a terrific sight gag concerning a debate between Cernan and his second wife about how many years they've been married. The Last Man on the Moon is a reminder that while there were no bigger heroes in the 1960s than the Apollo astronauts, they were still flawed men who had to come back down to earth.


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Sherilyn Connelly


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