No One Has Seen Damien Chazelle’s Neil Armstrong Movie Yet, And People Are Already Angry About It
It must be Oscar Season because people are already furious angry about a Damien Chazelle movie they haven’t even seen yet.
Chazelle’s latest work, First Man, debuted earlier this week at the Venice Film Festival. It is a biopic about Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling), the NASA astronaut who became the first man to step foot on the surface of the Moon. The first reviews of the film were pretty positive, hailing it as a major achievement packed with “wonderful vehemence and rapture.”
A couple hours later, the backlash began, based on the fact that according to at least one report from Venice, Chazelle doesn’t show Armstrong planting the American flag on the surface of the Moon during the lunar landing sequence (spoilers for First Man: Neil Armstrong lands on the Moon). The initial source of the friction appears to be this Telegraph article which quotes Gosling (who’s Canadian) saying that the Apollo 13 mission "transcended countries and borders.” After that post got aggregated, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida tweeted about it.
And with that, the social media outrage was frothing. Ah ha, but not so fast: It turns out that these posts may not have been giving the full picture of what happens in the film. From The Daily Beast’s Marlow Stern:
Other critics I’ve heard from who’ve seen the film back up this version of events: Chazelle doesn’t dwell on the specific moment Armstrong plants the flag, but the flag is in the scene, and it is visible in multiple shots. He did not erase it from history, or from the sequence.
I haven’t seen the movie yet myself; perhaps when I do I will find that the relative lack of flag-related material feels out of place. (The wrangling over what flag to plant and how and why was a big deal in 1969.) What upsets me more than the flag at this point is the rush to be infuriated by a movie that almost no one has seen at this point. Watch the movie! Then decide if it is a masterpiece or an unpatriotic disaster! Can we all just do that? Thank you.
First Man opens in theaters on October 12.