The new movie First Man, which stars Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong and the first ever mission to the moon has attracted criticism from American conservatives.
The film, which had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on August 29 opened to strong reviews but drew controversy for omitting the iconic moment where Armstrong plants the US flag on the surface of the moon, although according to reports the flag is seen on the moon in the movie.
Once news of the film not featuring the scene got out it prompted a lot of angry reactions from conservatives who were furious that one of their most important moments in US history would not be shown on the big screen.
Numerous politicians and commentators voiced their annoyance online including Marco Rubio and James Woods.
In response director Damien Chazelle (La La Land, Whiplash) put out a statement clarifying why the flag moment wasn't in the movie as he wanted the focus to be on Armstrong and his overall achievement for mankind and didn't want to make a political comment.
He is quoted by Indie Wire as saying:
In “First Man” I show the American flag standing on the lunar surface, but the flag being physically planted into the surface is one of several moments of the Apollo 11 lunar EVA that I chose not to focus upon.
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.
I wanted the primary focus in that scene to be on Neil’s solitary moments on the moon — his point of view as he first exited the LEM, his time spent at Little West Crater, the memories that may have crossed his mind during his lunar EVA.
This was a feat beyond imagination; it was truly a giant leap for mankind. This film is about one of the most extraordinary accomplishments not only in American history, but in human history.
My hope is that by digging under the surface and humanizing the icon, we can better understand just how difficult, audacious and heroic this moment really was.
Gosling echoed Chazelle's comments in Venice during a press conference. The Canadian actor said:
I think this was widely regarded in the end as a human achievement [and] that's how we chose to view it.
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 was reminding everyone that he was just the tip of the iceberg — and that's not just to be humble, that's also true.
So I don't think that Neil viewed himself as an American hero. From my interviews with his family and people that knew him, it was quite the opposite. And we wanted the film to reflect Neil.
Chazelle's anti-Trump tweets from August 2017 have also begun to resurface.