If you have any interest in a) films, b) space, c) Ryan Gosling or, like us, d) all of the above, then you will have already seen the trailers for First Man.
And if you haven’t, well, correct that mistake right now:
Looks good doesn’t it? The fascinating story of the life of Neil Armstrong, the first man (hence the title, not-so-eagle-eyed viewers) on the moon, a man who was a true pioneer for the human race, reaching as far as any man can reach, and then having to deal with the aftermath of life back on Earth.
But, for some, there is a big, big thing missing from the two trailers seen so far. Something is very wrong.
NOT ENOUGH AMERICAN FLAGS.
That’s right, after it recently premiered at the Venice Film Festival, people noticed that the planting of the American flag on the moon is not in the film - although the flag itself is.
Ryan Gosling, who plays Armstrong, but is, it must be noted, a Canadian, defended the decision when asked about it, saying:
“I think this was widely regarded in the end as a human achievement [and] that’s how we chose to view it. I also think Neil was extremely humble, as were many of these astronauts, and time and time again he deferred the focus from himself to the 400,000 people who made the mission possible.”
“He was reminding everyone that he was just the tip of the iceberg — and that’s not just to be humble, that’s also true. So I don’t think that Neil viewed himself as an American hero. From my interviews with his family and people that knew him, it was quite the opposite. And we wanted the film to reflect Neil.”
Well, as you can imagine, this has not gone down well in the old United States, who, safe to say, are quite fond of a) their flag, b) American achievements, c) AMERICA, d) U! S! A!, e) WINNING and f) all of the above.
They are, quite frankly, hopping mad and, such has been the outrage that Neil Armstrong’s sons have been forced to step in to defend the film from claims that the film is ‘anti-American’ (stop laughing in the back).
The film’s director Damien Chazelle made a statement on 31 August saying:
“In First Man I show the American flag standing on the lunar surface, but the flag being physically planted into the surface is one of several moments of the Apollo 11 lunar EVA that I chose not to focus upon.”
“To address the question of whether this was a political statement, the answer is no. My goal with this movie was to share with audiences the unseen, unknown aspects of America’s mission to the moon — particularly Neil Armstrong’s personal saga and what he may have been thinking and feeling during those famous few hours. I wanted the primary focus in that scene to be on Neil’s solitary moments on the moon — his point of view as he first exited the LEM, his time spent at Little West Crater, the memories that may have crossed his mind during his lunar EVA. This was a feat beyond imagination; it was truly a giant leap for mankind.”
Meanwhile, Armstrong’s sons Rick and Mark, along with First Man author James R. Hanson, published an open letter on Friday defending the amount of ‘flaggage’ present in the movie. They wrote:
“We’ve read a number of comments about the film today and specifically about the absence of the flag planting scene, made largely by people who haven’t seen the movie. As we’ve seen it multiple times, we thought maybe we should weigh in.
“This is a film that focuses on what you don’t know about Neil Armstrong. It’s a film that focuses on things you didn’t see or may not remember about Neil’s journey to the moon. The filmmakers spent years doing extensive research to get at the man behind the myth, to get at the story behind the story… It’s a very personal movie about our dad’s journey, seen through his eyes.
“This story is human and it is universal. Of course, it celebrates an America achievement. It also celebrates an achievement “for all mankind,” as it says on the plaque Neil and Buzz left on the moon. It is a story about an ordinary man who makes profound sacrifices and suffers through intense loss in order to achieve the impossible.
“Although Neil didn’t see himself that way, he was an American hero. He was also an engineer and a pilot, a father and a friend, a man who suffered privately through great tragedies with incredible grace. This is why, though there are numerous shots of the American flag on the moon, the filmmakers chose to focus on Neil looking back at the earth, his walk to Little West Crater, his unique, personal experience of completing this journey, a journey that has seen so many incredible highs and devastating lows.
“In short, we do not feel this movie is anti-American in the slightest. Quite the opposite. But don’t take our word for it. We’d encourage everyone to go see this remarkable film and see for themselves.”
So far, so reasonable.
But now Armstrong’s fellow astronaut, and the second man on the moon, Buzz Aldrin, has posted two images on Twitter that seems to suggest he’s in the camp of the MORE FLAGS PLEASE WE’RE AMERICAN protestors.
Check out this subtle piece of astroshade:
Unsurprisingly, the megaflaggers absolutely loved it.
Oh well guys, if you wanted more flags you should have made your own film shouldn’t you?
First Man is in US cinemas 12 October