July 23, 2021

The hidden face of the man of the Moon

The hidden face of the man of the Moon


Let's look at the title first. The name of a film can be simply enunciative, sometimes anecdotal or often evocative. But sometimes, and this is one of them, it is a statement of intentions that says a lot about the director's philosophy and his perspective on the story he intends to narrate. The feat of the first astronauts who set foot on the Moon – perhaps the most transcendental event of the twentieth century – can be told in many ways, like everything, but first the epic is the tone that most fits into the public's imagination . The "American", even, with great display of fanfares and flags in the wind. But "First Man", and here we return to the title, opts, without forgetting the historical feat, to focus intimately on the human being who for the first time gave that "great leap for humanity." Or, as says Ryan Gosling, who plays Neil Armstrong in the film, for "revealing the man behind the myth." Well, beyond that lunar walk that was seen on television around the world that July 21, 1969, Armstrong was someone Little known, as elusive, introverted and refractory to being labeled as a hero, the idea of ​​the "First Man" team was to explain, according to Gosling, how someone who prepares to navigate space to a destination never before trodden " He then went back home with his family and took out the trash. "There goes the relationship with Janet, his wife, and the trauma of the death of his daughter Karen, just three years old because of a brain tumor, which turns into a of his motivations to excel professionally.

With the permission of the family

To enter the intimacy of this guy who started his career as a military pilot and ended up stepping on the moon in a certain way by discarding, due to the many casualties of astronauts in previous missions, Gosling had the facilities of the heirs of Armstrong, who They allowed access to their privacy. "The children have been involved and I was lucky enough to meet Janet and visit the farm where Arsmtrong grew up. For me, the greatest pride in making this film is that their children have approved it. "

Gosling, he says, was never one of those children who dreamed of going to the moon. "I was three years old when the Challenger happened – the shuttle that disintegrated with 7 passengers on board in 1986 – so I had a sense of tragedy around space travel." However, he has not been hesitant to immerse himself, for several months, in a very realistic film journey, and the design of the ships and the simulators in which the astronauts traveled and rehearsed has been meticulous and "sometimes we spent six and eight hours in those pots, listening to Armstrong's recordings. " The film, in fact, reproduces numerous conversations of the two crew members of Apollo 11 with NASA. Claustrophobia is one of the most outstanding props by critics. And "First Man" aims to integrate the viewer into the spaces that Armstrong experienced. "We wanted the audience to experience it from within, literally throwing them into the atmosphere," explains the actor.

The film premiered at the Venice Festival, contest that in fact inaugurated. The expectations around her were more than high since it was learned that Damien Chazelle, the new child prodigy of Hollywood, would be responsible for a "biopic" of the astronaut. Chazelle emerged with only 29 years as director of "Whiplash", a film about the obsession with the music of a young drummer and his controversial teacher who managed to sneak into the short list of candidates for best film at the Oscars. Then, two years later, he received the consecration in style with "La La Land", where he collaborated with Ryan Gosling for the first time. The musical won 6 Academy Awards out of a total of 14 nominations, the same ones that in their day harvested "Titanic" and "Eva Naked." In addition, it raised 445 million worldwide. What path Chazelle would take after touching the stars with his hands was one of the questions that "First Man" posed at first and the reception in Venice was less triumphant than expected. Outside of the field of music, in which he has forged his style, this "biopic" was a challenge for the American. From now on it will be known if the public supports this space adventure of 60 million dollars of production (double that "La La Land").

Antipatriotics?

Who will not pay for "First Man" will be Donald Trump. The American president complained about the "anti-patriotism" of the film because it did not reflect in his two hours and 18 minutes of footage the moment in which Armstrong and Aldrin nailed the American flag on the Moon. This omission has not gone unnoticed in the United States and has generated a controversy that may affect the income of the film after several Republican political offices made the absence of the flag and even Aldrin launched a tweet with the snapshot that "First Man »Omit and the hashtag« proud of being American ». Damien Chazelle and Ryan Gosling have since embraced the mantra that, on the one hand, the mission of Apollo 11 was an achievement of humanity and not only North American and, on the other hand, that, as the actor says, who speak of this like an anti-patriotic tape "is that they have not seen it".

On the other hand, the interpreter claims to be impressed by the "sacrifice of hundreds of people to reach the moon", a milestone that since 1972 has not been repeated and a debate that remains in the air after numerous voices request an expedition loving You. Worth it? «First Man», far from the easy epic, does not hide the drama in lives and the high economic cost of the space race, but it leaves the viewer answering the question of whether it is worth conquering other planets.

What is clear, at least for Gosling after the filming, is that the conspiranoid doubts about a hypothetical filming on Earth of the arrival to the Moon – shot by Stanley Kubrick according to the jocular documentary "Operation Moon" (2002) – do not have sense. "The large amount of evidence wins the most skeptics," he says. In any case, that is not the role of this "First Man" which is, first of all, a portrait as intimate as possible of a feat of colossal magnitudes.

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