The sons of legendary astronaut Neil Armstrong are on the defensive in light of recent criticism of the new film First Man about their father's historic moon landing. The sons and the film’s director are saying it is not anti-American in the slightest. Critics of the film are calling it unpatriotic because of the lack of the famous flag-planting scene.
Damien Chazelle who also directed “La La Land” wanted to portray the risks and challenges of the moon mission through the eyes of Armstrong. The director didn’t want to make a film about the landing but more focused on Armstrong’s his unique, personal experience of completing this journey, that had so many incredible highs and devastating lows. Chazelle hopes that by digging under the surface and humanizing the icon, we can better understand just how difficult, audacious and heroic this moment really was.
Chazelle believes this story is universal in it’s appeal, that it’s not distinctly an American story but one that will appeal to audiences all around the world. He added that it was not a political statement about the state of America.
In July 1969, Neil Armstrong, who died in 2012 at age 82, and Apollo 11 Lunar Module pilot Buzz Aldrin performed the first manned Moon landing and spent two and a half hours outside the spacecraft while Michael Collins remained in lunar orbit in the Command/Service Module.
President Jimmy Carter presented Armstrong with the Congressional Space Medal of Honor in 1978, and Armstrong and his former crewmates received a Congressional Gold Medal in 2009.
Armstrong's sons and family described him as a reluctant American hero. According to all who knew him, he was a humble person, and that's the way he remained after his lunar flight. He was labeled as a recluse because he didn't grant interviews or sign autographs but his family said it was just because he didn't like the media attention. One has to wonder what he would make of a bio-pic that focuses on his life.
Among those who have criticized the film is Republican senator Marco Rubio who said that the film should portray America in a better light since it was the US who planned, payed for and executed the mission. The senator took to Twitter to voice his displeasure for the film.
However, Canadian actor Ryan Gosling who portrays Armstrong in the movie, defended the decision to not show the flag. He believes, according to reports, that Neil didn’t necessarily view himself as an American hero. He went on to add he wanted the film to be more about Armstrong, the man, not his deeds.
Film critics have so far enthusiastically praised the film, rocketing "First Man" to early lists of possible Oscar favorites. Universal Pictures will release it Oct. 12.
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