In the Shadow of the Moon
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
When I was a child, I had a small record which discussed NASA’s attempts at space travel and its ultimate achievement – landing on the surface of the Moon. I remember listening to the recording in awe, wondering what it must have been like upon approach and landing; wondering what it must have felt like to set foot upon the surface of the Moon. In the Shadow of the Moon is a documentary celebrating that walk on the moon and features first hand accounts from the surviving members of the various Apollo missions to the Moon, including Jim Lovell, Dave Scott, Buzz Aldrin and Gene Cernan.
Accompanying the remastered original NASA footage is the musical composition of In the Shadow of the Moon, composed by Philip Sheppard. A professor at the Royal Academy of Music, Philip Sheppard is also a composer, a cellist and a pioneer of the electric cello. He has recorded with such artists as Scott Walker, David Bowie, Damien Hurst, Oasis and Unkle and has appeared as an improvising soloist on such soundtracks as Harry Potter: The Goblet of Fire, Hotel Rwanda and The Virgin Queen. In creating the soundtrack for In the Shadow of the Moon, Sheppard took his inspiration from the footage itself as is evident in the liner notes by the composer: “The restored images reveal a small jewel of earth hanging in a backdrop of terrifying blackness. A ravishing gold foil-covered lunar module hurtling toward monochrome craters and the most captivating slow motion launch footage imaginable. To say this material is musically inspiring would be a massive understatement.”
The resulting soundtrack is one filled with a mix of wonderment, beauty, joy amazement and awe. There is a sense of accomplishment as evident through uplifting orchestral pieces like The Eagle has Landed and Lunar Ascent. There are intense pieces such as Lunar Descent which is underscored with choir vocals. Sheppard has interspersed string solos with orchestral pieces and interlaced choral pieces in an effort to express the emotions taking place within each scene. The soundtrack of In the Shadow of the Moon brings me back to the awe-inducing Moon Landing record of my youth and has inspired me to check out this documentary of one of man’s most remarkable achievements to date.