8 Days: To the Moon and Back is brought to life in stunning fashion by its Neil Davidge-composed soundtrack

With the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing fast-approaching, you can be sure to see plenty of programmes heading to our TV screens commemorating the historic event.

One such programme to hit the airwaves is the BBC documentary 8 Days: To the Moon and Back which was broadcast on BBC Two on July 10th.

The documentary retells the story of the Apollo 11 landing in a very unique way, using actors to dub the original radio communication, in a similar style to that used in Peter Jackson’s First World War film They Shall Not Grow Old

8 Days: To the Moon and Back offers up a fascinating insight into the history-defining moments of the Apollo 11 mission and is helped immeasurably by the programme’s score, composed by Neil Davidge and David Poore.

What’s 8 Days: To the Moon and Back about?

As you might expect, 8 Days: To the Moon and Back details the Apollo 11 mission that took place between July 16th and July 24th 1969.

The documentary follows the exploits of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins on their eight-day mission to become the first men on the moon.

The programme offers up a mix of archive footage and new material shot specifically for the film but the real treat here is the extensive audio taken directly from the radio communication at the time.

Soundtrack review

Coupled alongside the breathtaking footage we see on screen is the underlying score composed primarily by Neil Davidge which offers up some truly brilliant moments.

There are clear inspirations used by Davidge throughout the score to permeate different moments of the mission. From the Saturn V’s lift-off to the eventual moon landing itself, we can hear elements of Hans Zimmer’s Dunkirk and Interstellar soundtracks as well as hints of Davidge’s own work on Halo 4.

Throughout the film, the music allows for a constant build of anticipation for this moment that changed the face of history but it remains understated enough to allow the pictures on screen and the archive radio communication do most of the storytelling. 

The bonafide highlight of the score is, without doubt, the moon landing itself where we can hear an organ breathe into life in a moment that could be dragged straight out of the score from Interstellar

Davidge manages to set the tone of the programme with his understated score but without drowning out the other elements of the film as some other composers fall victim to. 

It may have been nice to hear a bit more emotion in the music at times to really hammer home the significance of the Apollo 11 mission but Davidge’s score really does do an ample job at allowing the documentary to flourish in several other ways.


What else has Neil Davidge composed?

Neil Davidge may not be one of the biggest names in the film and TV music industry but you’ll almost certainly have heard his work without necessarily realising. 

Since his career really took off in the late 90s, Davidge has popped up in the music departments in several films and TV series. His biggest role in these early years was as a music producer in Moulin Rouge, before going on to be a writer for the 2006 Miami Vice soundtrack.

But it was in the 2010s when Davidge’s career really evolved with composing credits on the likes of Halo 4, the BBC documentary series Earth From Space and Sky Atlantic’s first collaboration with Amazon Prime, Britannia

With a rapidly growing CV like this, it surely won’t be long until we hear Neil Davidge’s work once again.

The documentary 8 Days: To the Moon and Back is available to watch now on BBC iPlayer after its broadcast on July 10th, 2019.

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