Release date: July 21st, 2012
Running time: 58 minutes
Director and producer: Jose Escamilla
Cast: Jose Escamilla, Bill Bryson, Tonia Madenford
How much do we really know about our Moon? We’re told it’s a quarter the diameter of Earth and that it’s our only known natural satellite but for as long as I can remember I’ve always thought of it as a grey and barren mass. How could I think anything else? Every image I’ve ever seen of it, released by NASA and other space agencies, has shown it that way.
You can imagine my surprise then when I came across Jose Escamilla’s documentary, Celestial. For the first time in my life I saw images of the Moon I couldn’t believe at first, and then I started doing my own research and realised there’s more to it than NASA would like to have us believe.
To begin with, Escamilla’s documentary challenges the commonly held belief that the Moon is grey and he goes about doing so by presenting us with a selection of stunning full colour images. These images of the surface were among the 1.8 million digital images taken during the 1994 Clementine Mission. Since that mission, Japan, India and China have visited the Moon, but they haven’t released any of their colour photography to the public.
The space agencies, it would seem, have been playing fast and loose with us by releasing and publishing images in black and white, overexposed, upside down, mislabelled and with many sections blacked out due to what they claim as being “data loss”.
Photographs of the Moon were being taken from as early as the 19th century, but it wasn’t until the Apollo 8 mission in 1964 that we got a colour photograph taken of the surface with the Earth appearing in the distance. This image showed a light brown surface. Even in the 1965 photographs taken during the Russian ZOND Mission, the Moon is shown to be a full colour celestial body, so what don’t they want us to see in these later high resolution photos?
Celestial spends much time showing us these images and Escamilla guides us through them as we see glowing mounds and what appear to be vast oceans. Even the colour footage shot by amateur astronomer Bill Bryson from his porch in Richmond, Texas, show some incredible details those black and white images didn’t.
That’s not all though. Escamilla draws our attention to some other interesting landmarks on the Moon. There really appear to be towers, buildings, domes, mines, ships and perhaps most astounding of all is a pyramid located on the Far Side of the Moon and the Statue of Reiner Gamma, which is estimated at 6.25 miles tall. Just to give you an idea of the scale of this statue, the largest one we have here on Earth is the Spring Temple Buddha in China and that stands at 153 meters.
Celestial is a documentary which will leave you with a lot of questions, but you might also flat out object to its findings, in both cases you’re more than welcome to download and view a handful of the hi-res images from the Space Exploration Resources section of the Arizona State University website, they’ll give you an opportunity to see the Moon in detail and marvel at its beauty even if you don’t believe there’s such activity going on there as Escamilla outlines.
The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is a composer and music producer with a philosophy degree. Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and World Cinema, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.
You can find his music on Soundcloud .