Poor moon-landing conspiracy theorists. Lacking the historical and cultural gravitas of JFK assassination conspiracy theorists or the brazen pseudo-relevance of 9/11 conspiracy theorists, those who believe the Apollo 11 mission came out of a Hollywood backlot must toil in deepest obscurity. Imagine suffering from the aching conviction that the United States government, in league with a respected auteur or two, hoodwinked the entire world with a few minutes of blurry, amateurish video and garbled walkie-talkie speech — hoodwinked the entire world except you, that is. Now imagine a Truther and a second-gunman obsessive sharing a laugh about all your important revelations. If indeed you do hold that mankind has never visited the moon, make sure you don’t watch usually serious documentarian William Karel’s Dark Side of the Moon. In it, you’ll see your ideas further ridiculed, which would be unpleasant — or, even worse, you’ll see them vindicated.
These moon-landing conspiracy theorists offer many alternative historical narratives, and Karel picks a rich one. He proceeds from the question of how, exactly, filmmaker Stanley Kubrick came into possession of the advanced camera lenses he used to shoot 1975’s candle-lit Barry Lyndon. Perhaps NASA, who had the lenses in the first place, owed Kubrick for certain services rendered six years earlier? Cutting decontextualized file footage together with scripted lines delivered by actors, NASA staffers, and Kubrick’s actual widow, Karel tells an ominously earnest story of how the CIA recruited Kubrick and his 2001-tested cinematic craftsmanship to “win” the space race, at least on television. Though liberally peppered with small falsehoods and inside jokes for film buffs, Dark Side of the Moon has nonetheless inadvertently won its share of sincere adherents, including self-styled “Speaker of Truth” Wayne Green. It’s been said many times, many ways: humanity isn’t quite smart enough to effectively conspire, but we’re just smart enough to invent an infinitude of conspiracy theories.
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