Photo: A still from the film “Apollo 11: First Steps Edition,” which played throughout the month of June at the Rangos Giant Cinema. Photo courtesy of Carnegie Science Center

Films at the Carnegie Science Center’s Rangos Giant Cinema commemorate D-Day and the first U.S. moon landing.

By Ed Skirtich

Depictions of death and destruction in “D-Day: Normandy 1944 3D” and mankind’s triumphant landing on the moon in “Apollo 11: First Steps Edition” happened in June at the Rangos Giant Cinema inside the Carnegie Science Center. Audiences were silent as they looked at the vivid colors, camera angles, animation, sound, and voices of the characters in the films.

Many U.S. soldiers survived World War II’s D-Day on June 6, 1944 with the help of local veteran Henry Parham.

“I made barrage balloons to protect soldiers from air attacks,” said Parham in a panel discussion after the film.

Tom Brokaw narrated the movie with a soothing voice that became dramatic as he educated the audience about Germany’s Hitler and U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Brokaw explained that Hitler never used an alarm clock, while Eisenhower did. Eisenhower made sure his U.S. troops had a very early morning start on D-Day; Hitler did not, and his German Army had many defeats that day. Even though thousands of U.S. soldiers died on D-Day, survivors were shown in the film as thankful and enjoyed being accepted by their fellow soldiers.

“I’ll never forget this day and I hope no one ever will,” said the film’s animated U.S. Army infantry soldier as he hid behind large sand dunes at Omaha Beach in Normandy, France.

America’s D-Day victory on June 6, 1944 was a precursor to August 14, 1945, when America celebrated Victory over Japan, or “V-J Day” and won World War II.
Twenty-five years later, on July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong, a U.S. astronaut, landed on the moon. This was documented in the film “Apollo 11: First Steps,” Todd Douglas MiIler’s edition of the movie. Multiple voices came through the radios of the astronauts and NASA Command Center as the journey to the moon became a success. The sounds and voices were cautious, dynamic, and upbeat.

Douglas Miller’s film had breathtaking cinematography. The screen sparkled with various shades of black in deep space, bright blues and grays of the planet Earth, and the blaring orange color of the sun. The sound system rocked with explosions.

Astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Michael Cooper, and Armstrong were humorous and remained high-spirited throughout the trip to the moon on Saturn V. Cooper stayed behind on the rocket, keeping it ready to return to Earth, as Armstrong bounced around the gray, dusty surface of the moon, then planted an American flag on it as he said these famous words:
“One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”