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Tobias Ellwood reviews 'The Moonwalkers'

The Moonwalkers: planet Earth seen from the Lightroom | Image by: Justin Sutcliffe

4 min read

Briefly slip away from planet Earth and all our trials and tribulations with this incredible and profound immersive experience

No one is too busy or too important to stare up at the moon. Our night-time companion is a constant in our life. It has been casting a calming, almost therapeutic, spell since the dawn of humanity. A brief reminder, looking up, that we are such small entities. Yet only 12 humans have made the journey and stood on the lunar surface. There to gaze back and realise that our fragile world is just another heavenly body in the sky. 

This is the profound message Tom Hanks gives us with his incredible production of The Moonwalkers now playing at the Lightroom near King’s Cross, London. 

The story of the Apollo Missions is where the word “moonshot” comes from. Daring to achieve something never done before, facing immense risk – without a clear understanding of what’s around the corner. Doing the impossible.

Safely sending a man to the moon and back remains one of humanity’s single greatest achievements. Unquestionably driven by Cold War competition, it nevertheless underlined what can be achieved through vision, leadership, and partnership. Mastering the art of new technology; building a new relationship between machine and user. But what keeps 400,000 people motivated, for a full decade, to succeed where no one has before? Through hardship, setbacks and accidents?

Apollo was a feat so profoundly heart-warming that the hostile, fragmented and turbulent world of the time paused to appreciate what humanity, on a good day, can achieve.

It is astonishing this incredible endeavour occurred over 50 years ago. Nothing close, with such jaw-dropping success, has overshadowed this “giant leap for mankind”. As Tom Hanks explores, this could all be about to change in the next couple of years. The Artemis program is set to put new footprints beside those left in perpetuity by those 12 brave astronauts five decades ago.

The Moonwalkers is far more than a trip down an Apollo memory lane

Aptly named, Artemis was the daughter of Zeus and brother to Apollo and will see an overdue gender and ethnic balance land on the moon. But returning to Neil Armstrong’s old stomping ground is not an end objective but merely the lily pad for another giant leap to Mars.

Sadly, back on Earth, the geo-political backdrop behind Artemis is arguably worse than Apollo. Global competition has moved from bi-polar to multipolar. Our post-war global order, which faced down the Soviet threat, is once again being tested to its limits. A new Cold War beckons, along with the rise of authoritarianism. When United Nations chief António Guterres declares our world is becoming “unhinged as geo-political tension rise and we are incapable of coming together to respond to mounting challenges”, we know we are in trouble.

Tom Hanks
Artemis II crew Tom Hanks (centre) with astronauts for the new moon program
Image by: Justin Sutcliffe 

Experiencing The Moonwalkers production, with all its incredible visual effects, allows you to briefly slip away from planet Earth and all our trials and tribulations. To look back from the surface of the moon at a distant, serene, beautiful, precious planet, suspended in the celestial heavens. How blessed we are to call this terra firma our home. From this wider perspective, our sad trajectory of ever-greater global political discord and conflict is placed into context. 

The Moonwalkers is far more than a trip down an Apollo memory lane. There is a profound message about where our world is going, what humanity can achieve when we get it right, and the far-reaching consequences of when we get it wrong. I’d recommend anyone in power should see it. 

Tobias Ellwood is Conservative MP for Bournemouth East

The Moonwalkers: A Journey With Tom Hanks
Written by: Tom Hanks & Christopher Riley
Venue: Lightroom, London King’s Cross – until 21 April

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