A review by Shlomoh Sherman
October 17, 2018
Read about First Man On the Internet Movie Data Base
Director: Damien Chazelle
Writers: Josh Singer (screenplay by), James R. Hansen (based on the book by)
Stars: Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Jason Clarke
Plot: A look at the life of the astronaut, Neil Armstrong, and the legendary space mission that led him to become the first man to walk on the Moon on July 20, 1969.
Plot Keywords: moon - astronaut - Neil Armstrong character - outer space - NASA
Taglines: Experience the impossible, journey to the Moon
Genres: Biography - Drama - History
Motion Picture Rating: (MPAA)
Rated PG-13 for some thematic content involving peril, and brief strong language
Parents Guide: See below
Release Date: October 12, 2018 (USA)
Filming Locations: Atlanta, Georgia, USA, 690 Rounsaville Rd, Roswell, Georgia, USA
Production Co: Universal Pictures, DreamWorks, Temple Hill Entertainment, Perfect World Pictures
Runtime: 141 min
Sound Mix: Dolby Atmos
Color: Color Awards and Nominations: See below
FIRST MAN is the story about the legendary American Astronaut Neil Armstrong's 1969 journey as the first human to walk on the moon.
Ryan Gosling does a superb job as Armstrong. According to the film, he was not a person to easily express emotions. After the death of his little daughter, due to a terminal illness,
The film depicts the 1960s space race which the Soviets appeared to be winning. The American government felt obliged to do something dramatic to at least catch up to the Russians and they were spurred on by remembering president Kennedy's promise to land a man on the moon by the end of the 60s decade.
While the hippie culture was changing music, views on sex and drugs, and society in general, and while America was also in the midst of a racial revolution, NASA was preparing to open a new world of exploration.
The movie shows us that not everyone in America was happy or excited by the moon project.
The sound of Gil Scott-Heron's song, Whitey's On The Moon plays in the background over scenes of people protesting the government's financing the space project and pursuing a hopeless war in Vietnam rather than using the funds to help the poor and needy.
The film grows in emotional intensity as it shows the liftoff from Houston and the descent of the lunar module, Eagle, on the moon's surface. We who remember the actual flight once again relive the dramatic moment of Armstrong stepping off the Eagle, speaking the immortal words, "One small step for man; One giant leap for mankind."
As dramatic as the moon flight and landing are, the movie also has a second drama, - the story of Neil Armstrong and his family. Armstrong has difficulty being close to his wife and children. On the eve of the flight, he cannot even bring himself to say goodbye to his children, 8 and 10. His wife has to literally force him to speak to the children before he leaves, telling him that the children are aware that he may not return from the flight if even one of the many miscalculations that can occur, happens. The older child confronts him, asking him if it is possible that he won't safely return. When he says, yes, it's possible, the boy merely shakes his hand rather than hug him. Upon his return from the moon, Armstrong is put into quarantine. When his wife comes to visit him, they are separated by a glass wall. Rather than running up to the glass to kiss, they seat themselves and watch each other till Armstrong weakly blows a kiss to her.
The depiction of Neil Armstrong as a man who had difficulty expressing his emotions and affections to those close to him came as no surprise to me. I remember seeing him on my small black and white TV at Edwards Air Force Base where his parents came to greet him.
As his mother and father walk down the steps of the plane to the tarmac, the announcer speaks, and I remember the words clearly, even after so many years. "Capt Armstrong and his mother embrace warmly. Capt Armstrong and his father practice manly restraint."
Manly restraint. They merely shake hands. Imagine. This astronaut went on a journey that was so dangerous that it was a miracle that he came back alive, and all his father can do is shake his hand. Watching that disgusted me because it was the epitome of something so unJewish. Had Neil been Jewish or Italian or Greek or Puerto Rican or god knows what, the father would have been all over him with hugs and kisses. But that White Anglo-Saxon Protestant GOYISH behavior made me sick. Call me overly sensitive if you wish but that scene was in my mind as I watched Neil's lack of emotional enthusiasm in FIRST MAN.
Doing some research on the director, Damien Chazelle, I find he is a self-professed "left-leaning" person who expresses vehement antipathy towards president Trump and conservatives generally and their values. It is evident to me that he purposely left out a scene showing the planting of the American flag on the moon so as not to appear overly patriotic to his politically correct liberal buddies, not wanting to be seen as a nationalist. This fits in perfectly with how the new Hollywood is exactly showing America its idea that identity politics is preferable to patriotism and nationalism.
Although it may be true that the moon landing was a human achievement, it more specifically was an American achievement, and as far as I am concerned, to willfully ignore that fact shows a kowtowing to the worst aspects of Hollywood liberalism.
Armstrong is shown throwing his deceased daughter's little bracelet into a moon crater.
Sometime after the successful moon landing and the return of the crew, certain people put forth the theory that the landing was fake, a plot by the American government to fool the world into believing that going to the moon was impossible. FIRST MAN doesn't deal with this issue but the idea that NASA was not able to accomplish the landing and so had to create a false film about me has always struck me as crazy. But, not surprisingly, this fits into the ideas that some have that the government is essentially evil and always plotting against its citizens.
The magazine, Popular Mechanics, had this to say about faking a moon landing:
Why Faking the Moon Landing Was Impossible
And this is an excerpt from a July, 2018 edition of the Washington Post:
Why do people believe the moon landing hoax or other conspiracy theories? While people's attraction to conspiracy theories might seem illogical, it stems from a very logical desire to make sense of the world. Assigning meaning to what happens has helped humans to thrive as a species, and conspiracy theories are internally cohesive stories that “help us to understand the unknown whenever things happen that are fearful or unexpected,” said Jan-Willem van Prooijen, a social psychologist at Vrije University in Amsterdam. For some believers, the sense of comfort and clarity such stories bring can override the question of their truth value. Conspiracy theorists often have a high degree of tolerance for contradiction that allows them to ignore evidence against their theories. Conspiracy theories also supply a seductive ego boost. Believers often consider themselves part of a select in-group that — unlike the deluded masses — has figured out what's really going on. While conspiracy theories have been around for millennia, they are thriving in a political moment that rewards those who reject established knowledge. “Conspiracy theories are becoming part of our national dialogue,” said University of Miami political scientist and conspiracy theory researcher Joseph Uscinski. Showing concern for a conspiracy theory's victims, the study suggests, isn't a good debunking strategy — especially when the theory is racist, discriminatory or otherwise harmful. Aldrin once punched someone who accused him of faking the moon landing. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2018/07/20/why-do-people-believe-the-moon-landing-hoax-or-other-conspiracy-theories/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.b944b3ec75fb
The following is an introduction to a review on Geek.Com/Movies. It's not as favorable as others but I thought it an interesting and honest review:
"If you know both your NASA lore and your recently-popular Millennial actor/director bromance-duos you know that’s damn near an ideal pairing: Gosling powering through tasks of intense difficulty and concentration wearing Resting Terminator Face really does seem to be Chazelle’s favorite thing in the world to put on film, and Neil Armstrong of course was infamous for having done the COOLEST THING A HUMAN BEING HAD EVER DONE… EVER and yet never once before or after betraying that he thought it (or anything else, really) was all that big of a deal. So this is very much “Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela” levels of appropriate casting."
Read the review at https://www.geek.com/movies/moviebob-reviews-first-man-1755655/
My opinion is that for all its faults, FIRST MAN is a movie that all proud Americans should see. It brings back a moment in our turbulent history when the streets of our nation witnessed a summer of violence while real American heroes risked their lives in the quiet peace of space so that we might expand our horizons. It was one small step for a man and a giant leap forward for America!
As usual, I end my reviews citing an excerpt from an IMDB reviewer. Here is one from MrDHWong's review of October 11, 2018:
KUDOS TO Claire Foy as Janet Armstrong; this British actress portrayed the current Queen Elizabeth in the Netflix series, THE CROWN; also seen in the PBS TV Series, UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS
PARENTS GUIDE FOR FIRST MAN (2018)
Certification: MPAA Rated PG-13 for some thematic content involving peril, and brief strong language
SEX AND NUDITY:
ALCOHOL, DRUGS AND SMOKING:
VIOLENCE AND GORE
FRIGHTENING & INTENSE SCENES
AWARDS FOR FIRST MAN (2018)
Toronto International Film Festival 2018 Nominee People's Choice Award Gala Presentations Damien Chazelle
Read about First Man On the Internet Movie Data Base
Cast overview, first billed only:
Claire Foy ... Janet Armstrong
Ryan Gosling ... Neil Armstrong
Pablo Schreiber ... Jim Lovell
Christopher Abbott ... Dave Scott
Ethan Embry ... Pete Conrad
Ciarán Hinds ... Robert Gilruth
Jason Clarke ... Edward Higgins White
Kyle Chandler ... Deke Slayton
Corey Stoll ... Buzz Aldrin
Shea Whigham ... Gus Grissom
Patrick Fugit ... Elliott See
Lukas Haas ... Mike Collins
Cory Michael Smith ... Roger Chaffee
Brady Smith ... Butch Butchart
Olivia Hamilton ... Pat White
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