The Moonwalkers: A Journey With Tom Hanks—An Immersive Reminder Of Humanity’s Greatest Adventure

The Moonwalkers A Journey With Tom Hanks [v] credit Justin SutcliffeJustin Sutcliffe

There’s a space race going on just north of London’s King’s Cross train station. Along Lower Stable Street, huge images of the moon adorn lightboxes, over 50 of them, telling the epic story of the Apollo missions and the 12 people—all men—who traveled from Earth to walk on the moon.

Like the moon itself, the images fascinate and attract, from close-ups of the lunar surface taken by the astronauts of Apollo 8—the first humans to leave Earth and orbit the moon 55 years ago today—to portraits of Gene Cernan on his “moon buggy” as Apollo 17 prepared to leave the moon in 1972. No one has been there since, but the exquisite photos—all shot on analog, of course, so extremely high resolution and recently remastered—bring the moon to life. They all come from Andy Saunders’ incredible Apollo Remastered.

But the lightboxes lead to something more astonishing. In a four storey art space called Lightroom nearby is The Moonwalkers: A Journey With Tom Hanks (£25 adults/£15 children), an hour-long immersive experience in which the Hollywood star narrates the epic story of “the twelve.”

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MoonwalkersJamie Carter

Immersive Experience

It begins as a standard movie but quickly begins to cover all four walls of the giant space, with the floor on which the audience sits frequently becoming the lunar surface. The 360 presentation is sometimes a collage of the incredible remastered photos.

Other times, there’s archive video. There are two highlights—an immersive, rumbly launch of a Saturn V rocket, pieced together skilfully from archive film, and a panoramic of a valley on the moon from the Apollo 17 mission. It’s all spine-tingling stuff.

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Lightroom – The MoonJustin Sutcliffe

Return To The Moon

Throughout, Hanks—who played astronaut Captain Jim Lovell in the movie Apollo 13—relates the stories of the Apollo missions in intimate detail, but there are also interviews with the crew of NASA’s impending Artemis II mission, the first astronauts since 1972 to go to the moon.

The follow-up to Artemis I, which went beyond the Moon in late 2022, but with no crew, it’s slated for 2024 or 2025. Largely a crewed repeat of repeat of Artemis I, but with four astronauts on board to test the Orion spacecraft’s life support systems, Artemis II will be a 10-day mission with two orbits of the Earth before going 4,600 miles beyond the far side of the Moon.

However, these interviews, though timely in some ways, are neither illuminating nor particularly fitting. After all, the Artemis II mission is more like Apollo 8 in that there will be no landing. That will have to wait until Artemis III in the mid-to-late 2020s. It’s those lucky astronauts that will join the Apollo moonwalkers in legend.

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MoonwalkersJamie Carter

Staggeringly Beautiful

Hanks, who co-wrote The Moonwalkers with Christopher Riley, offers a storytelling style of narration that ensures that the pinnacle of human achievement 55 years ago is just the—a legend. As NASA prepares to launch its next Artemis mission, it’s a reminder of the strange pause in space exploration we’ve lived through—and a taste of what’s to come.

Because if 1960s cameras can make the moon look this staggeringly beautiful, imagine what 8K cameras will do in just a few years.

The Moonwalkers: A Journey With Tom Hanks will show at Lightroom in London Kings Cross until April 21, 2024.

MoonwalkersJamie Carter

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