Post#: 244-18 – Words: 1205 – Audio: N/A
I’ve have been reading the reviews to the premier of the new Damien Chazelle film, First Man; a story of the life of Neil Armstrong, first man to walk on the moon, from 1961-1969.
The reviews have been pretty good is seems, more for the apparent good showing of Ryan Gosling playing the “first man”. So.. why am I not going to see this film?
It seems as the film’s storyline reaches the point of the moon landing, Chazelle intentionally decided to omit the iconic placement of the American flag. Gosling himself attempts to defend Chazell’s choice as being more a presentation of the human achievement “for all mankind”, and not about any single country. This has apparently set off some criticism (HERE)
Where I Stand
Here’s my issue on this. Of course, and indeed, there’s a twinge of good old-fashioned (America was always great) patriotism, but if this is to be some level of historical presentation then you’d think such presentation would try to be as factual to the entire context of the achievement; the achievement itself being on two levels.
The first level being reflected in the words Armstrong uttered as he stepped of the platform… “One small step for man; one giant leap for mankind.” It was a phrase scrutinized and debated at NASA to make sure the event was construed as not political.. not about planting flags of conquest and political domination… is was about human achievement, and indeed it was a crowning human achievement that a human being would set foot on that big bright nighttime object in the skies admired and worshiped for nearly a million years of humans looking toward the heavens in awe and wonder.
The second level, well… the actual effort to reach the moon was nothing near as pure and noble as mankind reaching out to the heavens for science alone. It was pure politics, a reaction to fear, and flat out competition to be the first. A competition to be the first human? Nope. It was a competition between us and the Soviets, for bragging rights… image of power and prowess, future claims of scientific and/or political lunar advantage, asserting political ideologies beyond our planet.
All Kids Made This Film!
I am guessing that what is missing in this film (other than the planting of the American flag) is that no one connected with this picture was alive at the time of the achievement. Not the starring actor, the director, even the screenwriter. (Did anyone even ask a Baby Boomer what it was like watching that on TV.. or living during those times?) So it seems what we have with this film is someone at least one, if not two, generations removed from the actual event trying to interpret what THEY think the public needs to know.
Depicting the planting of the flag tells a “rest of the story”… or the one not often expressed. Americans went to the Moon to beat the Russians. It was the American public who financed the science, built the vehicles; it American astronauts who took the risks, and three died in the process of testing.
Sorry… I’ll not spend my senior citizen’s discounted ticket price to see this film that fails to tell the whole story, or even suggest a greater story beyond just Armstrong himself.
A NASA Goof With Armstrong?
In retrospect regarding the event itself… it’s common knowledge that NASA had always been VERY sensitive to publicity given to the astronauts and they tried to “guide” the original “right stuff” guys, and those following, to maintain a certain measure of integrity. From what I understand the selection of Armstrong being the first man was more a combination of chance of assignment, rank/role in the mission, and fate. I might have thought that NASA would have been more astute in thinking that the first man would be the guy on all the TV talks shows, paraded around the globe, books written, and more than anything he would be a representative for future NASA space projects, such as more moon missions to determine habitat possibilities for missions to Mars, the future space shuttle, etc.
What NASA got was a “Charles Lindberg” style of reclusive avoidance of publicity. I am sure this contributed to the event itself.. man landing on the Moon… as being rather an anti-climatic event. Collectively humanity just said to itself, “Ok.. that was great. We did it. Maybe we can do something with that someday. Now… about all the suffering here on Earth.. “.. or… “That’s great! We beat those Commies! Now… back to balancing my checkbook.”
This has not been the only movie I’ve avoided for high-and-mighty personal values. The first one for me was Oliver Stone’s “JFK”. That movie pushed conspiracy theory a bit too far and the reviews suggesting the important events depicted were fabricated to meet other agenda for the film. I have a solid opinion that Americans are notorious for not having a great grasp of history and historical events. Then Hollywood cranks out whacked, artsy movies by directors trying to send some drug-induced message of life with no tolerance for maintaining historical accuracy, that people leave the theater thinking this is how history really was. No, I am not just thinking about the peripheral props used in a film not having been invented at the time period the movie is depicting. I am talking storyline and timelines.
Take Tarantino’s “Django: Unchained” for example. I saw that one for the cast; I enjoy a lot of them. The story was actually interesting in spite of it being fiction.. a black guy acting as a Stallone or Bronson during the pre-Civil War period. I’m a white guy but I did find attractive a tough-ass black guy meandering through the South, being able to handle a gun and do it with swagger. But damn… I was whispering so much to my GF sitting with me in the theater about inconsistencies in just about everything, she was hushing me constantly and threatened to leave. But.. that’s Tarantino.
That other film he did… “Inglorious Basterds”… uhhh… those German uniforms.. Hitler… the entire pretext…
I was working in the funeral industry when that movie came out and I (thankfully) got a call halfway into the film to remove a dead body off the local interstate highway. I never bothered seeing the entire movie, even on DVD or TV.
I’m really not that picky about movies. I mean, I can overlook some soldier using a Brown Bess musket when he should be using an M1 Garand if the plot and theme is original. Just FYI… if you want to check out gross prop inconsistencies to the point of laughter… watch the cable TV show, “Mysteries At The Museum”, with host Don Wildman. It’s a cool show on its own merit with history tidbits, but many times as they are explaining a story or event there’s a little vignette to help illustrate the narration. It’s not untypical for soldiers wearing strange uniforms, “wrong war”helmets, carrying oddball weapons, incorrect clothing styles, props not consistent with the era depicted; it’s really quite funny.
Anyway… if I have to spend time watching a film to separate accuracy from artsy fiction… I’m not interested.
My other sites… if you’re interested…
Ed.:244-18 – Words: 1205 – Audio: N/A
I’m a movie nut, but facts DO matter.
Ed.: 244-18 – Words: 1205 – Audio: N/AI’m a movie nut, but facts DO matter.