So could Hollywood, with a 100 million dollar budget, have had the ability to produce the film of the Apollo 11 moon landing that was seen on TV in 1969 without it being debunked with our current technology?

(I do not think the landing was faked at all - just wondering if it were faked really well would we see it now with digital formats and investigation.)

  • 5
    Have you ever watched Capricorn One? No. Hollywood had no CGI in 1969. Even simple horizon perspective needs a horizon at the correct distance if you're trying to fake it, so they'd have had to build a set possibly 10 miles across [Indoors!!]. The people who think it's faked usually don't have even a basic understanding of lighting & cameras.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 17:19
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    So, this isn't a topic about a (known) movie or TV show. Its adjacent to M&TV, but I do wonder whether it's on topic. Also ... despite what some people think - its clearly not faked. It would literally be easier to go to the moon for real than fake it.
    – iandotkelly
    Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 17:50
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    @iandotkelly - it is about hollywood and special effects history and definitely about a show that aired on TV. What better question to highlight where Hollywood special effects were in that time period?
    – blankip
    Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 17:52
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    While it might be reasonable to ask if this would have been possible, I...really don't know what to make of this question yet. If anything, it should certainly be first revised heavily to shut off conspiracy bullshit HNQ comments before their very creation. Then we can think if this is even on-topic to begin with. It might be more appropriate on Video Production, though.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 18:25
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    It might look like a "film-making" question, but by leaving the budget and everything else entirely open and ignoring all other aspects, I think you also rob the film-making aspect of almost all substance to compose a reasonable answer. It is at its core probably more of a Skeptics question, even if you're not asking if it was faked rather than if it could have been.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 18:42

2 Answers 2


Hmm, more comments on question category than answers. Sure, I can see it in skeptics as a means of having others find it and learn from it, but some key technical answers will come more from video production folk.

Anyway, I'm more interested in the answers. Kubrick's 2001 came out in 1968, and was considered hyper-realistic in its day. Surely that fueled some of the conspiracy theorists. But damning technical points like Tetsujin's above are lost on anyone who WANTS a fake to have been possible.

It's tempting to believe the physics of the bound-time and dust fall rate (to both match Moon gravity) would have been very hard to get right:

In contrast, what Kurbick did in 2001 was large and pretty, and that sort of thing has a disproportional emotional sway on our sense of what's real.

If you really want the debunk, see Snopes article on it here: https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/false-stanley-kubrick-faked-moon-landings/. The most compelling part is an outtake from a purported admission by "Kubrick" (an actor portraying him), where the director of the "interview" coaches him, saying:

“You don’t say he said anything. You say what he says. Tom, I’m giving you directions. You don’t have to imitate him (Richard Nixon). You’re not reporting it. You’re repeating it … We’re doing exposition here. That’s how we’re going to sneak it in.”

  • I really hate to be picky, since I am sure the moon landings were not faked, but the footage in that video after 1'20'' is of Apollo 17, which had a vastly better (& color) camera than Apollo 11. Apollo 17 was over 3 years later and perhaps they faked 11 to beat Kennedy's end of the decade deadline.
    – iandotkelly
    Commented Jul 12, 2020 at 23:59
  • Your answer is good. But it really isn't what I am looking for. I would like to know - technically - what could have and what could have been faked and what we would catch with "enhanced digital imagery". Could they have sequenced the landing, the moon walk, the rover, and on and on? (I am not looking for confirmation it wasn't faked. There are 200 countries that would have laughingstock videos of the USA if it were faked in any way)
    – blankip
    Commented Jul 13, 2020 at 15:09
  • (1 of 2) I'm not sure what "enhanced digital imagery" might reveal about fakery or its absence. In video post-processing, you can enhance things like contrast, sharpness, and correct for color casts, or apply complete remappings of colors (as corrections, if you have on screen a neutral gray reference), but a "War Games" style rabbit-from-a-hat information-from-nothing outcome amounts to a variation of breaking the second law of thermodynamics.
    – ZenGeekDad
    Commented Jul 21, 2020 at 20:54
  • (2 of 2) The better tactic is to use physics engines for modeled 3D forms -- like video games use -- to see if the astronaut's bounce and dust fall rates both match 0.165G and an absence of air (wrt the dust). Getting those right with 1960s analog special effects would be inventive indeed, and making the effort at that detailed a deception would mean having anticipated a future calculation capacity that would verge on miraculously prescient.
    – ZenGeekDad
    Commented Jul 21, 2020 at 20:54
  • Or how about this: Kubrick's actual depiction of a moon landing in A Space Odyssey has several technical aspects which are obvious tell-tales of then-state-of-art fakery, but are missing in Apollo: (1) Kubrick's moon landing [youtu.be/RtDS2sI0N50?t=102] has obvious blue-screen work: the white balance differences alone scream out. (2) There is no parallax-based change in the view of the moonscape, as the camera pans down, making it obviously a 2D image. (3) The lander too, is clearly a 2D cut-out: it never rotates or pitches. These are obvious to the eye, no modern image tech needed.
    – ZenGeekDad
    Commented Jul 21, 2020 at 21:16

Using cinematic techniques the most appropriate depiction of a lunar landing was in 2001: A Space Odyssey. However physics in space cannot be replicated, even putting the astronauts on strings to simulate lunar gravity would be impossible to recreate it accurately. The conspiracy theories are impossible because of their size and complexity. Hundreds of thousands of people–including astronauts, scientists, engineers, technicians, and skilled laborers–would have had to keep the secret; Hollywood has leaked footage and pics all the time. The Moon is a near perfect vacuum; replicating a vacuum on a stage would require an enormous vacuum chamber, lets not forget the largest vacuum chamber at the time was only 20 feet by 47.

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