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Tearing Apart Apollo 11 Inaccuracies

The movie trailer for Transformers 3 came out over a week ago, and seeing it is a facepalm moment for any true human spaceflight follower, fan, aficionado, or historian. I mean really, — and yes, I know this is a movie — but how could they portray what they call “a generation’s greatest achievement” so inaccurately? I originally decided I wasn’t going to post it, because it basically re-writes history and I can only imagine how the conspiracy theorists will run with this. Plus getting this kind of thing into the public mindset, I fear, will be another “Capricorn 1″ moment where people construe the movie as proof that NASA is hiding things. But Robert Pearlman over at collectSPACE posted an article today, basically tearing apart the trailer, discussing every inaccuracy in detail. So watch the trailer, above, and then go check out Robert’s article — its great.

And then, while you’re at it, go read Robert Krulwich’s article on NPR’s website, where he gets a unusually lengthy response from Neil Armstrong about what really happened on the Apollo 11 moon walk, and why it was so short.

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • vagueofgodalming December 18, 2010, 11:59 AM

    Now that Paramount have seen fit to release the real footage of the Moon landing, it’s hardly surprising that there are one or two small inconsistencies with the hoax that NASA made forty years ago. Props to NASA, though, for going to the effort to send people to the Moon to try to make the hoax convincing – real professionals, those guys, considering you or I would have just found a lot in New Mexico somewhere.

  • CrazyEddieBlogger December 18, 2010, 10:27 AM

    WTF? what part of science FICTION are we not getting here?

    Yeah, they branch off of a real event, but put a giant “IF” around it. Every Sci-Fi plot starts with a set of literary inventions, and there’s no point picking them apart. Worrying that the location of the tranquility base is wrong is just plain silly.

    This is a movie about robots that change into concrete mixers for crying out loud. It’s like picking apart superman because you can’t pick up a jetliner by holding it by one hard point…

    Having said all of that, given the long text in the linked article about how nobody knew where tranquility base was during the mission anyway, well, this just makes the particular nit-pick even weaker.

    (and no, I do not think there’s even a nano-particle of truth in either this or Capricorn 1)

  • Spoodle58 December 18, 2010, 10:43 AM

    Nancy your are damn right.

    I know its sci-fi and I do like my sci-fi a lot, but still, they could have made an effort with this trailer, the whole trailer looks like it was made by idiot. Reminds me of the awful science inaccuracies in the movies fantastic four and the core. That stuff bugs me.

    I also hope Neil & Buzz got hazard pay for checking out that giant robot thingy. :)
    Lads the cheques are in the post. :)

  • Bombadil December 18, 2010, 12:34 PM

    As an Apollo fan and Transformers hater, I really don’t see a problem with this.
    If they had tried to be accurate… well, it wouldn’t be the plot for a Transformers movie.

  • Hon. Salacious B. Crumb December 18, 2010, 12:55 PM

    For Heaven’s sake. It’s just a fictional movie for a bit of harmless entertainment.
    I think I could name a dozen other sci-fi space films with huge holes in the storyline. I.e “Armageddon” (Some think as the worst sci-fi space film of all time.) I remember the Wikipedia quote;

    “The physics and scientific approach of Armageddon was criticized for its poor adherence to the laws of physics. This has led NASA to show the film as part of its management training program. Prospective managers are asked to find as many inaccuracies in the movie as they can. At least 168 impossible things have been found during these screenings of the film.”

    Another even more ludicrous film was “The Core”, which when I saw it at the cinema, I laughed so much that my chest hurt for a day or two. [Please Read Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy Review : The Core.]

    Remember the ol’ B-Grade sci-fi movies of the 1950s and 1960s? This movies obviously the same, but with a bit more technical CGI mixed in!

    One real solution here is to just label the film; “Sci-fi / fantasy” and just go have a good giggle!

  • Olaf December 18, 2010, 1:17 PM

    I actually would expect with modern film 3D technologies they could have made the moonwalks more realistic but here again they clearly fail in the studio setup. They avoided the dust in the scenes. And the walks themselves are clearly not in lunar gravity. So far it seems that even with today’s technologies they still cannot fake a lunar landing without people noticing that it is fake.

  • CarpD December 18, 2010, 1:31 PM

    lol

    Well I’m a Transformer fan (of the cartoon), yeah Michael Bay really destroyed the Transformer and now the Apollo, too.

  • skivee December 18, 2010, 2:08 PM

    Anyone who learns their history from a Miicheal Bay movie deserves to learn their history from a Micheal Bay movie.
    (See “Pearl Harbor” for additional information)

  • drumhellar December 18, 2010, 4:15 PM

    Great.
    You managed to convince me to watch a terrible trailer for what will undoubtedly be a terrible sequel to a pair of terrible movies.

    That’s three minutes i’ll never get back.

  • Manu December 18, 2010, 5:03 PM

    Nice LED flashlights they had in 1969!

    Looks like a poor film, not much more to complain about really.

  • robadawb December 18, 2010, 11:37 PM

    I’m not defending him but you have to understand where Michael Bay (the director) is coming from. It’s a trailer designed to capture your attention, and hopefully your wallet. He plays our emotional strings by using phrases such as “A Generation’s Greatest Achievement” and “Our Nationals Proudest Moment” while showing real footage.

    And while he’s exploiting the first moon landing to write an original script, the part of me that enjoys science fiction is slightly enthralled by the idea. And the part of me that knows millions of teenagers who know nothing about the Apollo 11 landings will probably walk away from this movie with a very poor history lesson about one of the greatest accomplishments in human history, sheds a little tear. Let’s just hope most of them are smart enough to separate fact from fiction.

  • capper December 19, 2010, 12:45 AM

    Don’t forget to add the last 20 minutes of “Contact” to the list.

  • J. Major December 19, 2010, 12:09 PM

    Transformers 1 was bad, Transformers 2 was awful, and it looks like Transformers 3 will be hideous. Don’t ask me why Bay, who MUST have been a fan of the cartoon as a kid (hello, all of us in that age group were!) had to go p*ss all over it with a terrible redesign of the characters (and I blame Hasbro for playing along as well, as they laugh all the way to the bank) basically turning them all into giant metal bug skeletons. But I agree with robadawb…..we know the difference between real events and this crud, but the younger generation may not and will undoubtedly experience what they see on screen as their first impression of the Apollo landing.

    I guess it’s no different than any other “historical” big-budget film…Titanic, Saving Private Ryan, The Patriot, etc….which undoubtedly make historians cringe while the moviegoing public soaks it all up. Not much you can do about it. It’s just too bad there’s not more films being made that DO try to adhere to actual history.

    • Hon. Salacious B. Crumb December 19, 2010, 1:06 PM

      One of “The Twins” in Transformer : Revenge of the Fallen sums all of this rather nicely. “We don’t do much readin’.” I’d assume we are worrying about people getting history from a movie than reading a book or learning it in school.

      Instead should we be encouraging people to read more than worry about some kids getting some entertainment for fun? Frankly when I go to the movies, I go to switch my brain off!

      I also saw recently saw the wonderful film “Agora”, on the life of Hypatia. It it, they showed the Earth from space, but if you looked at the stars they were twinkling like crazy. It is the Earth’s atmosphere that cause twinkling and in space they cannot do so! Should we be equally outraged of such careless distortions of the truth?

  • Lawrence B. Crowell December 19, 2010, 8:39 AM

    I was in the electronics dept where the screens were playing one of the Transformer movies. I watched about 5 minutes of robotic violence and summed up the whole thing as ridiculous nonsense. I mean really! The point of stories or its incarnation in a screenplay is dialogue between people, the presentation of ideas, and of course there can be conflict in that gemish. However, I found this movie that seemed to be just endless CGI presentation of robots fighting robots, to be not only boring, but a meaningless piffle.

    LC

  • spameroo December 19, 2010, 10:27 PM

    Really, guys? As much as I love ragging on stupid movies, this is just ridiculous. Talk about crying wolf.

    First of all, IT IS A MOVIE. It’s not a “historical document.” What exactly is it that you think conspiracy theorists are going to latch on to? “Oh my god look the Eagle wasn’t there and then it was, in this newly discovered high definition full-color external chase cam view of the moon approach!” If the biggest threat to science were people who go to transformers thinking it’s an authentic documentary of a true story, I’d be a lot more confident in my future employment.

    Secondly, calling a bunch of minute technical mistakes a misrepresentation of history is about as sensationalist as you can get. By the logic presented in the article to support that this is a travesty, shouldn’t it be a bigger issue that, I don’t know, there is an alien spaceship on the moon??? I mean, since you apparently expect every movie to be a factual recreation of true history, I think the alien robot craft is a bigger error than the number of cameras the astronauts had. Also, wait a minute, that isn’t really Neil Armstrong! Someone call a lawyer, Michael Bay is going to teach children that an actor was the first man on the moon! …but wait, no, the author takes issue with the timing of his footstep, but misses the inconsistency that it’s a fraud Armstrong.

    I know I’m being an ass here, but this is seriously one of the most ludicrous attempts I’ve ever seen to make a controversy out of a nonissue. And I have watched Fox News.

    This is the kind of thing that makes people hate scientists. You’re over here freaking out about the harm that you think will be done by a movie, but in the process you make real, non-movie, scientists seem like the neurotic, socially-stunted elitists that we are already caricatured as too much these days.

  • big bang December 20, 2010, 5:28 AM

    What’s all the fuss about? Another crappy movie… Hollywood altering history has happened so many times (and sometimes in far more “credible” and damaging ways) that, frankly, all I can say is that I fully subscribe to drumhellar’s words…

  • Spoodle58 December 20, 2010, 9:21 AM

    The Core was really bad. Actually I would have to say that its was the worse I have seen.

  • ND December 21, 2010, 5:29 AM

    Pointing out science or historical errors in a movie should be done in the name of fun and not get all bent up about it. Specially in a Michael Bay movie! But trying to find as many errors as one can as an exercise, fun and education is ok.

  • Olaf December 21, 2010, 11:58 AM

    I actually love bad movies.
    Especially the Godzilla series.
    But any bad SF from back then I really love.

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