Leave it to the conservative pundits and politicians who have stayed largely silent on this week’s mass shooting and the revelation of thousands of more deaths on a U.S. territory that the government ignored, to make a massive fuss about a movie they haven’t seen.
Danielle Chazelle’s “First Man” has screened and Venice (our review) and given it’s about Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon, but also much more, the film’s been scrutinized by those attempting to seize on a moment, for not making a meal of a moment where Armstrong (played by Ryan Gosling) plants the American flag on the moon.
Some reports acting in obvious bad faith– which we’ve dispelled, thanks to a writer of ours that has seen the film firsthand— even distort the facts and claim the movie barely (or doesn’t) even shows the American flag (it does) and then, of course, are calling the film (they haven’t seen) “anti-American.”
Well, Neil Armstrong’s sons, who have seen the film several times, are not here for it. Via Universal Pictures, Armstrong’s sons have released a statement and they say the film, unequivocally is not, “anti-American.”
Below is the statement, attributed to Neil Armstrong’s sons, Rick and Mark, and “First Man” author James R. Hanson:
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 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.
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.
Armstrong died in 2012 at the age of 82. “First Man” opens in theaters October 12.