Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

This is a triumph of ingenuity, a gem of a film built around footage from the Apollo space programme, a single strong idea, and no small measure of talent.

In Dust the moon landings didn't stop with 17; the last men to walk on the moon were not Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmidt. There was, is, an Apollo 18: another glorious Saturn V punching its way into the wild blue yonder; another cislunar transit, another landing; something going wrong.

William Hope provides the voice work. There's Gene, the voice of CAPCOMM, and Alan, and Glen. There's a conversation with a wife, with the President. The screen is full of the Moon and the Earth, and it is haunting. "The moon isn't a place, it's a character in a storybook" says Glen, and he's got a point - the moon is a harsh mistress. This is a romance selene, apparently based on an 'original idea' by Ben Lavington Martin, but it calls to mind Arthur C Clarke's A Fall Of Moondust or Godwin's The Cold Equations.

Mark Rutherford's music is well deployed, but the shape of the film is driven by the footage they had to work with. Given how massively documented the Apollo missions were there was obviously plenty to work with; one need only need look at Norman Mailer's Moonfire to see the quantity (and scale) of artifacts the project(s) generated. As achievements go it's among humanity's greatest, and on film The Right Stuff and Apollo 13 have gone some way to illustrating the bravery and ingenuity involved. This is an alternate reality, let us say, but a convincing one. The names are right, the tone is right, the pictures - they could speak for themselves, but they'd be telling a different tale.

John Spira shares writing credits with Martin, who also directs and edits. The pictures used match the story they are telling cleanly, ably, and compellingly. What's happening here isn't a new idea, William Safire wrote a speech for Nixon as a contingency for similar events, and that speech is beautiful. Dust doesn't come quite as close to the elegance of that backup plan, but it does get almost all the way there.

Reviewed on: 17 Jun 2010
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The unexpected predicament of Apollo 18 astronaut Glen Gordon.
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Director: Ben Lavington Martin

Writer: Ben Lavington Martin, Jon Spira

Starring: William Hope

Year: 2010

Runtime: 10 minutes

Country: UK, US


EIFF 2010

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