Simon Ennis intended to make a film on moon ephemera, myth and magic, but a chance meeting with a young advocate of lunar habitation sent him down an entirely different path.
Christopher Carson an intelligent young man with a moon obsession is determined to get to his dream place to set up a colony, even if it means he can never return to earth. His passion was irresistible, amusing and pathetic.
Carson isn’t joking; he is fixed on achieving his extravagant goal and actively seeks investors. Growing up, the moon was just one of his many obsessions but an all-consuming lunar fixation eventually erased all other pursuits. His parents are patient and encouraging and allow him to remain at home while he works towards his goal.
And Carson isn’t alone in his passion. Ennis found a number of “lunaphiles” including an astronaut, a moon property salesman, and a moon rock detective and scientists, who bring their skills, imagination and desires to this provocative documentary.
Ennis focused on the earthmen fixated on the moon. He traveled to the Mojave Desert, Roswell, Las Vegas, Houston, Wisconsin and New York where moon people can get a limited fix with like-minded people.
Former Apollo astronaut Alan Bean, now retired, lives off the memory of his actual trip to the moon. He walked on its surface, collected moon rocks, and gazed back at Earth, a wondrous experience that consumes him to this day. His obsession is partly satiated through repetitive drawings of his space experience, astronauts on the moon, on endless repeat.
Dennis Hope, the self-proclaimed “owner of the Moon”, has earned over $30M to date selling one acre plots to future colonizers. Buyers include Presidents George W. Bush and the late Ronald Reagan. How does he get away with it? He says he asked the UN for permission via 1967 U.N. Outer Space Treaty never heard back. He takes that to mean that he is sole owner of the Moon.
Joe Gutheinz has devoted his career to hunting down moon rocks and identifying fakes offered for sale. Some are on public display, but the rest are in private hands. Moon rocks are available to collectors but rarely are real ones for sale. Bean says he wished he’d brought back many more than he did, which altogether weighed about 80 pounds.
Astrophysicist Jaymie Matthews and author Matthew Goodman bring cooler heads to the mix, offering their insights with humor and dead serious concern. They stand in stark contrast to not only Carson but also Peter Kokh, Moon Society president, moon newsman and dreamer.
Kokh has racked up unknown hours staring at the moon and maps of the moon, naming its regions and laying out ideal lunar communities for liked minded colonizers. He publishes a newsletter and dreams big, and realizes he likely won’t get to the moon in his lifetime. But he can’t take his eyes off it.
The moon has traditionally affected our moods and emotional flow. Poets, songwriters, and artists have obsessed over the moon since culture sprang up. People are said to be more agitated during a full moon, “moonstruck”. The term “lunatic” comes to mind. Farmers still plant under a full moon.
The moon is beautiful and mysterious and far away enough that it will remain out of reach. The end of the US space programs means it is unlikely that humans will return, so it is forever unrequited love. Colonizers will never be tested.
Carson’s parents say he suffers from high function autism, Asperger’s, which makes him obsessive and intractable. He admits he is “socially awkward” and isolated as he lobbies for something a rational person knows will never happen.
In the end Ennis’ project isn’t about the moon. It’s about the people who circle the moon from afar and their pathetic longing for it. You feel sad and sorry for them because they will never reach that far shore and yet they yearn so powerfully for it.
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Written and directed by Simon Ennis
Opens: Feb 8