Yonatan Gal presents five of the greatest moments of the moon in the movies

The camera really loves the moon: You may have watched a live broadcast of a football game at night, when the action on the field really isn’t worth the watch, and one of the cameramen prefers to focus on the moon, floating high above the stadium (and truthfully, it looks beautiful). We also know that the moon has captured the imagination of people since the dawn of mankind – in science, religion, literature and art. That’s why it’s no surprise that the cinema, from its very inception over a hundred years ago to this very day – keeps going back to the moon, and succeeds in producing blockbusters and unforgettable films.

In this list and the following ones I will present to you, in a completely random order, five movies I really love, which represent the unique cinematic attraction of the moon. At this stage we won’t discuss movies with the moon as a metaphor (such as “Twilight 2: New Moon”) or a romantic source of inspiration (like the wonderful “Moonstruck”, starring Cher and Nicolas Cage); we’ll hold off for a moment also with the critically acclaimed, Academy Award winning movie “Moonlight” (Barry Jenkins, 2016). Instead, this time will focus on the moon as a location – a physical place of action, a real place where heroes go on crazy adventures and anything can happen… So, here we go – get ready for lift off:

Moon (2009) Director: Duncan Jones

We’ve leapt one hundred years forward, and it’s amazing to see how much the movie world and science have progressed: Now we have vehicles suited to micro-gravity, space suits, robots with a personality and effects that look completely realistic. To me, “Moon” is the coolest and most special film in this list, because it truly gives you the feeling of loneliness and isolation being so far away from home, that the astronaut feels (played by Sam Rockwell), stranded on the moon; But… Little by little it turns out, he’s not alone up there! (Yes, this movie is a bit scary – here’s the trailer, so you can decide for yourself if you can handle it.)

A bit of trivia: The filmmaker is Duncan Jones, whose father is the great singer David Bowie.   His dad has a huge hit song about “Major Tom”, an astronaut who flies into space and can never come back. In short, the asteroid doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999) Director: Jay Roach

Speaking of an evil mastermind and his tiny minions, do you remember Dr. Evil and Mini-Me? Here is a crazy-silly comedy, that mostly makes fun of the ridiculous old James Bond movies. Talented comedian Mike Myers wrote the script and stars in the film – both as the hero, international naughty spy Austin Powers; and as the infamous Dr. Evil, who has taken over the moon and built an enormous “Laser” canon…

Here’s Austin and Mini-Me facing off on the moon:

Don’t try to find any scientific logic in this one – like we said, it’s a very silly (and very funny!) comedy, but if you’re interested in the sources of inspiration for the film, look for “Diamonds are Forever” (1971) that shows how you can fake a landing on the moon; and “Moonraker” (1979) that included a completely bogus adventure in space, both of the James Bond franchise. Both of them are very “serious” movies, not a parody.

Things I learned from Yonatan Gal – the five big moments of the moon at the movies

Which of the following movies is from the silent movie era (in the days before the film world as we know it today?

Correct! Wrong!

What was the occupation of the director of the silent film?

Correct! Wrong!

Which movie depicts an astronaut stranded on the moon?

Correct! Wrong!

In which year was A Space Odyssey screened in movie theatres?

Correct! Wrong!

According to Yonatan Gal: What does a bored cameraman do in a boring football game?

Correct! Wrong!

Things I learned from Yonatan Gal - the five big moments of the moon at the movies
Well done! This is called 'missile know-how'
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When he was a child, Yonatan dreamt of being an astronaut, but something went wrong along the way and he found himself serving in the army at Galei Tzahal (IDF Radio), as an editor and broadcaster of culture shows. Later he studied screenwriting at Sam Spiegel Film & Television School in Jerusalem. Nowadays, Yonatan is the “movie man” –  he recommends new content in the description window of HOT VOD (cable television), he edits the news of the movie industry for the show “Shover Kupot” (“Blockbuster”) on YES cable channel for Israeli films, and he presents the movie review show on Tel Aviv Radio station 102FM. He also teaches film and media at the IDC (Interdisciplinary Center) Herzliya, and has been a staff member at the entertainment show “Erev Tov Im Guy Pines” (“Good Evening with Guy Pines”) for over a decade. There have been some rumors that he’s the voice behind the animated character “Hamevaker” (“The Critic”), but there’s been no official confirmation as of yet. Yonatan is still waiting to fulfill the promise he read in Bazooka Joe’s comic strip to go to the moon – even though it’s been a long time since he was 21. Father to Shaul and Ruth, married to Einat, lives at Givat Nili.

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