Operation Avalanche is a mockumentary about a mockumentary dealing with a conspiracy of a hoax. Needless to say, truth is not high on the agenda.
In 1967 the CIA suspects that the Soviets have a mole in the NASA space program. A pair of young agents (Matt Johnson and Owen Williams) make a pitch to infiltrate NASA under the guise of making a documentary about the Apollo project. Johnson and Williams are the kind of guys who were probably the AV nerds back in high school. They set about getting into offices and setting bugs. They learn a terrible secret—that it’s not possible to send men to the moon and get them back safely. Of course in the 1960s this was a major national goal. JFK had made the challenge and we were determined to see it happen. So something had to be done. The pair then shift from their search of the Russian mole to finding a way to fake a moon landing and save American prestige and honor.
Of course there have been various conspiracy theories that claim that the moon landings were a hoax. Some of those theories assert that the landings were created by filmmaker Stanley Kubrick. Kubrick is not directly involved in the conspiracy here, but the agents do go to his set to get ideas about how to fake a moon landing. Another tip of the hat to Kubrick is seen in a motel room where the bedspread has the same design as the carpet in the hotel in The Shining. (For more about Kubrick in these conspiracy theories, see Room 237, a documentary about various interpretations of The Shining, one of which is that it is his “confession” of faking the moon landings.)
This is clearly not a serious attempt to give credence to the conspiracy theories, rather it is a farce that shows an improbable scenario for these ludicrous claims. The film plays up the amateurish filmmaking of the young agents. To think that people of that quality could be behind such an elaborate scheme is preposterous.
The underlying issue of the film is really about belief and disbelief. Why is it that some people are so willing to not believe something? And the antithesis is also important: why are some people willing to believe something? It is interesting that in the case of these hoax conspiracy theories, disbelief is an act of faith, while belief in the moon landings is the response to evidence. Does that apply to the way we understand faith in a religious context? In Hebrews 11:1 we read “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Is faith something as unlikely as these conspiracy theories, or is there something more substantial to faith?
Photos courtesy of Lionsgate Premiere