NEW YORK (FOX 5 NY) - A new documentary called "Apollo 11" showcases stunning newly discovered footage and audio of the famous moon mission.
Todd Douglas Miller, the film's director and editor, told FOX 5 NY that NASA had commissioned films to document the mission of a lifetime but that the reels had been buried away in storage and forgotten for years.
Miller said he and his team obtained numerous reels of 70mm film and thousands of hours of audio recordings from the National Archives.
The shots are stunning: the Saturn V rocket lumbering towards the launch pad, planning and preparation at launch control, and the astronauts getting ready. It's all shown in crystal clear detail like it was shot yesterday.
"I think there were three or four of us in the room, and we couldn't believe what we were looking at," Miller said.
At Final Frame, a post-production company in Chelsea, Miller showed us where they did much of the painstaking work of restoring the large format 70mm film that had been buried away in storage, forgotten for years.
"The quality was beyond our expectations. It was astonishing to say the least and we just stood there dumbfounded in the screening room," Miller said about when they got their first glimpse at what was on the reels. "Even if we just had these couple of reels, that would have been astounding."
But they had hundreds. The films were commissioned by NASA to document what would be the mission of a lifetime.
The gravity of it showing on the faces of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins as they suit up and head to the rocket in July 1969.
"These are guys in their late thirties that had the weight of humanity on their backs. And I think you can see that in their faces on the day of their launch," Miller said.
It's not just their faces. About 11,000 hours of new Apollo 11 audio was also uncovered, highlighting things like that astronauts heart rates at key points of the mission.
"Buzz Aldrin's heartrate was 88 beats per minute during a Saturn V launch: the biggest thing humanity has ever built, the thing that has the largest sound of anything that's ever made," Miller said. "Neil Armstrong was asked to fly manually while they're about to land in a boulder field, and running out of gas, and his heartrate is up to 155! But you wouldn't know it listening to it."
Armstrong's son Mark told us he was not surprised.
"He had an uncanny ability to stay cool or appear to stay cool even if he was charged up on the inside," Mark Armstrong said. "And that has to be training—but I also think it has to be some of his nature."
Armstrong said his dad would have enjoyed seeing this newly found film, comparing it to years ago when Neil was shown the Google Moon project.
"He was fascinated by that because he was an engineer and he knows the kind of effort it takes to do that kind of thing," Armstrong said. "I think he would feel the same way about finding this footage and bringing it to the big screen."
"Apollo 11," which is playing in large-screen and IMAX theaters across the country, serves as a tribute to the roughly 400,000 people who worked on the space program. The film shows the work with only the sights and sounds of those days in the summer of '69: no narrator or modern-day interviews.
"I think it makes it very authentic. It leaves it up to the viewer to decide what to think about it," Armstrong said. "They don't have to listen to someone else tell them what to think, they can just see it."