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New Scientist OCTOBER 4, 2010 - by Catherine de Lange
BRIAN ENO AND AL REINHART FLY YOU TO THE MOON
It took film director Al Reinhart a year just to watch all the NASA footage shot during the Apollo moon landings, let alone start cutting it together for his 1989 film For All Mankind.
Luckily for him, Brian Eno, who composed the original soundtrack to the film, didn't seem to mind writing the music before the film was ever made. Now new music ensemble Icebreaker are bringing the score and the film back together with an impressive performance.
The film footage was shot by crew members on the Apollo missions, who were given sixteen-millimetre cameras and told to film whatever they wanted - both in transit and on the moon's surface. Apparently, there are now six million feet of footage. No wonder it took Reinhart so long to sort through it.
The visuals are breathtaking, and in hindsight, it's a blessing that man invented motion picture before acquiring the ability to fly to the moon. The film cuts together iconic shots - like the planting of the US flag into the moon's surface - with tiny snippets and intimate moments made available thanks to their hand-held cameras.
Once on the moon, for example, the astronauts film each other lolloping around in their clumsy space suits, like naughty schoolboys running and falling without the threat of landing with the thud of Earth's gravity. You can't see their faces, but can imagine how hard they must be laughing inside their helmets. Put that unique footage together with Eno's score and the effect is mesmerising.
Eno, who played alongside Bryan Ferry in the band Roxy Music in the 1970s and went on to become a pioneer of ambient music, has created a masterpiece. Even those who have become immune, through over-exposure, to the awesomeness of these lunar endeavours will be challenged not to be humbled by Eno's score and Icebreaker's performance.
As the film plays out the story of one moon mission, from takeoff to safe return, so the music takes the audience through the nerves, anticipation, excitement and sheer awe of this adventure. At times it's melancholy, at others playful, and it can be easy to forget that the twelve-strong ensemble is there performing live on an eclectic mix of instruments from electronic cellos to panpipes. Somehow, though, the combination comes together seamlessly. If you've ever wondered how it feels to travel into space and set foot on the moon, for now at least, this performance might be as close as you can get.
Icebreaker and BJ Cole will be performing at various locations throughout the UK during October and into November.