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posted by chromas on Friday October 12 2018, @09:09AM   Printer-friendly
from the out-of-this-world dept.

The movie First Man opens in theaters in the US on Friday, October 12. A local theater had two showings Thursday so I was able to get an advance look. Wikipedia summarizes the movie quite succinctly:

First Man is a 2018 American biographical drama film directed by Damien Chazelle and written by Josh Singer, based on the book First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong by James R. Hansen. The film stars Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong, alongside Claire Foy, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Corey Stoll, CiarĂ¡n Hinds, Christopher Abbott, Patrick Fugit, and Lukas Haas, and follows the years leading up to the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon in 1969. Steven Spielberg serves as an executive producer.

I've always seemed to have had a fascination with space. Maybe it was due to my good fortune in having grown up in the suburbs and having gone on many camping trips where the moon and stars were visible in all their glory. I'm old enough to have followed the "space race" from the late days of the Gemini program through Apollo and onward. With that as a backdrop, I found myself quite surprised at what unfolded in the movie. Various mishaps and catastrophes were tastefully addressed, most notably the fire on the launch pad which consumed Apollo 1. Nothing about the details of the missions trouble me. It was how the film thoughtfully portrayed the human side of things that got to me. The toll it took on the astronauts themselves and on their families. Ongoing battles for funding with Congress and the general public. The come-from-behind challenge as the USSR kept besting the US with one after another 'firsts' in space. Yet, through it all, Gosling's portrayal of Neil Armstrong was riveting in how driven and focused the first man to walk on the moon truly was. That said, he was human after all, and the movie graphically portrays moments of intense feeling which are made all the more dramatic for their infrequency of occurrence. It brought tears to my eyes more than once.

I had a few nits with some of the filming and sound work, but those were minor blemishes on this strong production. I know it has already forced me to revisit long-cherished memories from that era with a new insight and perspective. It changed me. Strongly recommended... I give it 8 out of 10.

NOTE: I have tried to avoid spoilers in this review. Please feel free to discuss the movie in the comments, but I suggest using <spoiler>to hide things you don't want immediately visible</spoiler> like this:

to hide things you don't want immediately visible

for those who may not have yet seen the movie.


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  • (Score: 5, Funny) by suburbanitemediocrity on Friday October 12 2018, @09:22AM (2 children)

    by suburbanitemediocrity (6844) on Friday October 12 2018, @09:22AM (#747830)
    They land on the moon and make it back alive.
    Forty years later, some drunk college kids try to convince some other drunk college students that it never happened. They greatly underestimated the number of dumb people in the world and the joke gets out of hand.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 12 2018, @08:55PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 12 2018, @08:55PM (#748033)

      This movie is literally a fake Moon landing. America faked the Moon landing.

  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 12 2018, @10:15AM (7 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 12 2018, @10:15AM (#747842)

    I heard that they decided not to show the placing of the American flag because it was done for all humankind, which it was, of course was, but it was a race in a bloodless war, which America won after all. Now, I'm in Europe, but I feel a hundred times more kinship for the good ol' US of A than Europe for various reasons (Get rid of the Orange Monstrosity), so it would kinda annoy me if they went so far PC. Did they? Did they really not show the flag, the salute? What did they do? BTW, James Hansen, the author of N. Armstrong's bio has a YouTuve talk that reveals a lot about the Fitst Man.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by ledow on Friday October 12 2018, @10:48AM (2 children)

      by ledow (5567) on Friday October 12 2018, @10:48AM (#747846) Homepage

      I think, though, that the entire theme of the mission wasn't about the US. Sure, there were badges and a symbolic flag... but they were comparatively tiny. Then "we came in peace for all mankind". They didn't have to word it like that. "One small step for man". They didn't have to word it like that.

      I think the crux is that man got to the Moon. Nobody says "The first American on the Moon" - he was the first man. There's a clue in the title! For once, people recognised what was important. And remember, it's not like the Russians etc. THEN went and stepped on the Moon. They weren't close at all, and didn't even get a man out there in the 50 years hence.

      It's actually refreshing to see America's "we are the entire world" attitude can instead be applied positively. "We did this *WITH* the entire world" is a much better attitude.

      As such, I don't think the planting of the actual flag is relevant... the astronauts never made a fuss of their American-ness, I don't see why a film about them should.

      I'm not a namby-pamby in this area, neither am I staunch nationalist in any respect. But I don't see the fuss.

      The first man stepped on the Moon in 1969. That he was American is no different to whether Christopher Columbus was Italian with a Portuguese wife, who was paid by the Spanish king or not.

      • (Score: 4, Interesting) by All Your Lawn Are Belong To Us on Friday October 12 2018, @03:03PM (1 child)

        by All Your Lawn Are Belong To Us (6553) on Friday October 12 2018, @03:03PM (#747915) Journal

        Depends on how you slice it and remember it. The program was absolutely born out of a nationalistic competition between the U.S. and the Soviets, with the U.S. desperately playing catch-up ball. It definitely had an undertone of improvement of capabilities not just for science (the selling idea) but also the military (we can project force and atomics anywhere). Once we won the race we clearly weren't interested in continuing to run (at least in terms of lunar exploration / science out of manned Moon or beyond). EVERY single unit of gear from the Saturn V to the lunar rovers to their space suits were boldly emblazoned with the American flag, "UNITED STATES", or both. And back then there were few, if any, dissenting voices to exalting the nation that did this thing. The world certainly celebrated, but it was also very much held as an American achievement.

        The interesting part is that the Apollo 11 flag planted blew over and most everyone agrees [gizmodo.com] that the flags are now colorless.

        Is it a big deal? It's good that it doesn't seem to be in retrospect, especially in the current MAGA culture. But is it important to remember the history of nationalism? Yep. Lest we repeat it.

        --
        This sig for rent.
        • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 12 2018, @03:40PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 12 2018, @03:40PM (#747939)

          The US was only desperately playing catch-up ball in the court of public relations. On a technical level, the US was on par or ahead of the Soviets in most aspects of the space program.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Thexalon on Friday October 12 2018, @03:01PM (2 children)

      by Thexalon (636) Subscriber Badge on Friday October 12 2018, @03:01PM (#747911)

      I was listening to an interview with the director recently, and I'm paraphrasing but his response was along the lines of: "That criticism is coming from people who haven't seen the movie. We don't show the exact moment when Armstrong and Aldrin plant the flag, but we do show the flag all over the place while they're walking around on the moon, and there's absolutely no doubt that this is portrayed as an achievement of the USA. The main reason for this decision was that placing the flag isn't really what this is about, so much as a character study of who Neil was and why he was the guy who first stepped onto the moon."

      Plus there's always the classic Tom Lehrer line about how the moon landing was made possible by "good old American know-how, brought to us by good old Americans like Dr. Wernher von Braun!"

      --
      The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
      • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 12 2018, @03:49PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 12 2018, @03:49PM (#747943)

        made possible by "good old American know-how, brought to us by good old Americans like Dr. Wernher von Braun!"

        Yes, we are a nation of "good ol' fashioned" immigrants.

        • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Friday October 12 2018, @05:40PM

          by Thexalon (636) Subscriber Badge on Friday October 12 2018, @05:40PM (#747978)

          In the case of von Braun, he wasn't just some random immigrant, he was someone who was directly responsible for Nazi attacks on civilian targets who the US invited into the country in order to get his help developing the ICBMs they needed to fight the Commies. A film about him entitled "I Aim for the Stars" prompted the retort "... but sometimes I hit London".

          --
          The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
    • (Score: 2) by jmorris on Friday October 12 2018, @08:07PM

      by jmorris (4844) on Friday October 12 2018, @08:07PM (#748018)

      They intentionally deleted the scene. Basically the U.S. has to get the Chinese censored print of a film about the single greatest achievement in human history. And other than a little online bitching we are taking it. That is how far America has fallen since 1969. Which entirely explains why we couldn't go back now if we desperately needed to.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 12 2018, @10:37PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 12 2018, @10:37PM (#748096)

    It's 2018... I demand to see a movie about the first woman to walk on the moon. #AstroPussy

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