First man is one of those films that you wonder if you need to watch it simply because the moon landing of 1969 has been so well covered that it seems like it’s old news. Granted, it is mankinds single greatest achievement and probably in reality has not been surpassed when it comes to the pure danger of it all. Today we are achieving amazing things when it comes to going further into space but the reality is that this involves robots. This is not to take away from the astounding technology that can reach the stars in ways we physically can’t but when it comes to the mind blowing awe of putting humans into space the moon landing really takes the prize.
The film is focused around Neil Armstrong and the astronauts who did make it to the moon and those who didn’t. Sadly the human toll of this achievement was high and most defintely stressful for all the men and their families. For Neil Armstrong this was heightened due to the fact that he was still grieving over the loss of his baby Karen. Neil is portrayed by Ryan Gosling who brilliantly brings to life a man who has become a national treasure but who also is a man who is of few words, a born leader who is a leader not because he was some kind of Alpha male who goes around chest thumping the whole time, but is a man dedicated to the task and who is of few words and little emotion. He is your classic mid century man who doesn’t need to tell you how good he is or be all touchy feely with his emotions. He just gets the job done and doesn’t think about publicity or fame.
I found it interesting that the film did touch on peoples feelings at the time. Most were ecstatic that this was occurring and yet there were some politicians who opposed the danger of it all, some who opposed the cost and some who from a social justice point of view didn’t like the cost. The latter was portrayed by Gil Scott-Heron and his beat poem called “Whiteys on the Moon.” At the end of the day it is clear that this is something that mankind simply had to do and as a result our society has progressed leaps and bounds. As a direct result of the moon landing some 6300 technological advancements, many of which are used on a daily basis and many which have saved countless lives such as the CAT scan.
You might have noticed in this article I have used the word “Mankind” many times. It’s a word that is not used often in this PC day and age but I feel it fitting because this movie is called “First Man”, this is a story of brave men, of intelligent men and men of great moral substance who were dedicated to this great mission. It is a story of man, not woman, strong and upstanding men of the mid twentieth century.