The decision to leave out the planting of the American flag on the moon by First Man director Damien Chazelle has now been defended by Neil Armstrong's sons and bashed by Buzz Aldrin. The movie premiered last week at the Venice Film Festival and has since received backlash for not including the iconic moment in American history. Ryan Gosling, who stars as Armstrong, says that the film portrays the achievement as a human one, as opposed to solely American, in an attempt to be from Armstrong's point of view. Now, the astronaut's sons are defending that decision, while Aldrin, who was on the mission, took a subtle swipe at the film.
Damien Chazelle's First Man goes to great lengths to tell the story through Neil Armstrong's perspective, which focuses on the personal and professional setbacks that the astronaut went through to complete the mission. Chazelle wanted to show off the "unseen, unknown aspects of America's mission to the moon," in order to tell a different version of the story. Ryan Gosling also noted that Neil Armstrong did not consider himself to be an American hero. Rick Armstrong and Mark Armstrong have since come forward to defend the film and the decision to leave out the planting of the American flag. They had this to say.
"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."
First Man has received criticism from people who are upset that Damien Chazelle left out what many believe to be the most important part of the Apollo 11 lunar mission. The director has since denied claims that he left the flag planting scene on the moon to make a political statement. Rick and Mark Armstrong continued to defend the film, stating that Chazelle wanted to tell the story from a unique perspective. They explain.
"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 movie that gives you unique insight into the Armstrong family and fallen American Heroes like Elliot See and Ed White. 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."
Much of the outrage surrounding First Man is by critics who haven't even seen the movie. With that being said, Rick and Mark Armstrong urge people to go see the story about their father to see what the movie is really all about. They do not feel that the film is unpatriotic in any way. The brothers actually see First Man as a story about an American hero through his own eyes that was extensively researched for years by Damien Chazelle. However, astronaut Buzz Aldrin seems to disagree. Aldrin posted images of the moon landing along with the hashtag, "Proud to be an American." The astronaut also retweeted a photo of himself saluting the flag while standing next to an enlarged photo from the Apollo 11 mission.
First Man received a three-minute standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival and has been getting rave reviews since its premiere. Damien Chazelle tries to put the focus on Neil Armstrong's point of view, to give viewers another side of a story that has been told so many times before. First Man hits theaters on October 12th, so you can see for yourself. You can read the entire statement from Armstrong's sons over at the Associated Press and check out Buzz Aldrin's response below.