No, Filmmakers Stanley Kubrick and Walt Disney Did Not Fake the 1969 Apollo Moon Landing, and Other American Narratives

Joel Eisenberg

Deconstructing great U.S. myths has become an ongoing effort.

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Man on the MoonNASA, Unsplash

Author’s Note

This article is based on accredited media reports. All listed facts within this article are fully-attributed to outlets including Wikipedia.org, QZ.com, Forbes.com, and Google.com.

Introduction

One of the most-discussed films of the late-1970s was “Capricorn One,” a controversial Warner Brothers release that at the time renewed chatter about a conspiracy theory from the prior decade, namely that our 1969 moon landing was faked.

In this instance, “Capricorn One” regarded a faked landing on Mars. See here for Wikipedia page on the film, which states: “Capricorn One” is a 1978 American thriller film in which a reporter discovers that a supposed Mars landing by a crewed mission to the planet has been faked via a conspiracy involving the government and—under duress—the crew themselves… Hal Holbrook plays a senior NASA official who goes along with governmental and corporate interests and helps to fake the mission.

Wikipedia hyperlinks several related pages, some related to conspiracy theories regarding our NASA space program. See here for Wikipedia page on moon landing conspiracy theories.

As excerpted from the page: In 1980, the Flat Earth Society accused NASA of faking the landings, arguing that they were staged by Hollywood with Walt Disney sponsorship, based on a script by Arthur C. Clarke and directed by Stanley Kubrick. Folklorist Linda Dégh suggests that writer-director Peter Hyams’ film Capricorn One (1978), which shows a hoaxed journey to Mars in a spacecraft that looks identical to the Apollo craft, might have given a boost to the hoax theory's popularity in the post-Vietnam War-era.

NASA missions, however, are but one U.S. stalwart that have borne the brunt of far-fetched myth over the years.

Let us explore further.

Myth vs. Reality

A July, 2019 article from QZ.com, entitled “Was the Moon Landing Faked? Absolutely Not, Says a Film Expert,” attempted to deliver the final words on the matter: It’s been half a century since the magnificent Apollo 11 Moon landing, yet many people still don’t believe it actually happened. Conspiracy theories about the event dating back to the 1970s are in fact more popular than ever. A common theory is that film director Stanley Kubrick helped NASA fake the historic footage of its six successful Moon landings.

Indeed, this article delves into the myth that Kubrick, the famed director of “2001: A Space Odyssey,” faked six of the landings.

The article’s author, Howard Berry, proceeds to deconstruct the myth: If we go along with the idea that the Moon landings were taped in a TV studio, then we would expect them to be 30 frames per second video, which was the television standard at the time. However, we know that video from the first Moon landing was recorded at ten frames per second in SSTV (Slow Scan television) with a special camera.

Berry goes on from there.

The U.S. moon landings being “staged” are but one of innumerable American myths presently being reviewed in this era of political polarization and narrative re-building.

See here for a comprehensive December, 2020 Forbes.com report on the matter of controlling narrative: “The Power Of Narrative: Change The Story, Change The World,” by Forbes Councils Member Wendy O’Donovan Phillips.

Phillips comments upon the phenomenon’s power: Storytelling is such an ingrained talent for most of us that we often unknowingly create, tell and participate in stories. We have the unique power to change the narrative of an entire world, one conversation at a time.

The questions become, then, considering the globe’s unaccountable organizational, personal, and political agendas, What is truth, and what is myth?

To return to the examples of the moon landings, some individuals still insist they were part of a grand conspiracy, as a targeted Google search will verify. Science and technological studies, however, have long ago proven the veracity of NASA’s efforts, as discussed in the previously linked QZ.com article.

Conclusion

The deconstruction of myth is as frequently difficult as managing global narratives. In an era where Vladimir Putin justifies Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to his country as a battle against Nazis, for example, the battle for truth will remain an ongoing fight.

But whose truth?

Thank you for reading.

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I am an award-winning author, screenwriter for film and television, and producer. My mission on News Break is to share socially important perspectives on both culture and pop-culture. Member of PEN America, and the WGA.

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