The new film “First Man” arrives in theaters on October 12, but it’s already causing a lot of controversy.
It recently premiered at the Venice Film Festival — and it quickly became clear that the film had left one major detail out of the telling of the story, according to reports, about how America won the space race and put men on the moon.
The film “First Man” actually omits the planting of the American flag on the moon — one of the most significant moments in American history.
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Canadian actor Ryan Gosling, who stars as Neil Armstrong, defended the decision to the press and said the moon landing was a historical moment that was not about America so much as it “transcended countries and borders.”
“I think this was widely regarded in the end as a human achievement [and] that’s how we chose to view it,” the actor added, according to The (U.K.) Telegraph.
“I also think Neil was extremely humble, as were many of these astronauts, and time and time again he deferred the focus from himself to the 400,000 people who made the mission possible.”
He also said, “From my interviews with his family and people that knew him, it was quite the opposite,” Gosling said, according to Britain’s Telegraph newspaper — meaning that Neil Armstrong, in Gosling’s view, did not see himself as “an American hero.”
“And we wanted the film to reflect Neil.”
(Armstrong died at age 82 in 2012.)
Moviegoers have already been calling for a boycott of the film on social media — and filmmakers such as James Woods, Nick Searcy and Robert Davi all have criticized the film’s omission.
@FirstManMovie and @RyanGosling @RyanGoslingNews think that to OMIT the #AMERICANFLAG on #moonlanding is ok ! DO YOU? – or have THEY JUST SPIT IN THE FACE OF #America and #JFK one of the most important @TheDemocrats in History ? Your thoughts? #ENGAGE
— Robert Davi (@RobertJohnDavi) September 1, 2018
But why not just present the facts as they were? I think Ryan Gosling is a wonderful actor, but omitting the seminal moment in the midst of mankind’s greatest achievement seems a purposeful denigration of the 400,000 Americans who accomplished it. https://t.co/K6SldeBkPA
— James Woods (@RealJamesWoods) August 31, 2018
You really have to be creative to find a way to alienate half of America with a movie about Neil Armstrong. Hollywood found a way. https://t.co/0EP0T4fBuO
— Nick Searcy, INTERNATIONAL FILM & TELEVISION STAR (@yesnicksearcy) August 31, 2018
Fox News host and LifeZette co-founder Laura Ingraham was also among those blasting the film for the apparent cold shoulder it gave to America and patriotism. “It’s another way of trashing patriotism,” she said on “The Ingraham Angle” this past Friday night about the film’s omission. “It’s another way of moving beyond the nationalism, or nationalistic spirit of the moment.”
“He planted an American flag. Plant an American flag.”
“My feeling is, you’re doing a biopic, stick to the facts,” Fox News contributor Raymond Arroyo said on the program that night as well. “He planted an American flag. Plant an American flag.”
Buzz Aldrin, who was on that original moon landing mission (he describes himself as “88 years young” on his Twitter feed, by the way) — recently was spotted wearing a T-shirt showing the American flag being planted on the moon.
That image went viral on social media over this long holiday weekend.
Always fun to visit my friends @KellySlater, John Moore & Co at their Outerknown clothing line party. Is it time for a space attire line yet?! 🚀😎 #spacesuitsaretrendy #roadtoapollo50th #5decadesofapollo pic.twitter.com/I34t42hbxf
— Buzz Aldrin (@TheRealBuzz) September 1, 2018
An older tweet from Buzz Aldrin has also been making the rounds on social media.
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In it, Aldrin said that planting the American flag on the moon was his “proudest moment.”
— James Woods (@RealJamesWoods) September 2, 2018
And check out this tweet of his, too, showing Buzz Aldrin again wearing that proud and patriotic T-shirt:
— Buzz Aldrin (@TheRealBuzz) August 29, 2018
And check this out as well:
— Pir8lksat40 (@pir8lksat40) July 22, 2018
In addition to Gosling’s defense of the movie’s omission, actor Jason Clarke said that the controversy is “just silly and naive, I think,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“Of course it celebrates one of the greatest acts of America and Americans and humanity and mankind.”
Clarke stars as Edward Higgins White, the first American man to walk in space, in the film.
Director Damien Chazelle also shrugged off the hullabaloo in an interview with Variety. “To address the question of whether this was a political statement, the answer is no. My goal with this movie was to share with audiences the unseen, unknown aspects of America’s mission to the moon — particularly Neil Armstrong’s personal saga and what he may have been thinking and feeling during those famous few hours,” he said.
Chazelle, by the way, is an anti-Trumper. He even said his motivation for joining Twitter last year was to criticize the president.
The Trump administration is openly endorsing Nazism and white supremacy. It's that simple. (2/10)
— Damien Chazelle (@DSChazelle) August 16, 2017
On Friday, though, Rick and Mark Armstrong, sons of the late astronaut, along with biographer James R. Hansen, released a statement in which they pushed back against all of this criticism.
They said the film is “quite the opposite” of being “anti-American.” They also said that the remarks about the film have been made largely by those who haven’t actually seen it yet, according to a piece in Fox News.
Watch the trailer for “First Man” below: