One of the most memorable and amazing films of the past year was “First Man”. Directed by Damien Chazelle starring Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy, this film explores the life of the first human to step on the moon, Neil Armstrong, thus aptly named. The film is a spectacular feature and a great addition to the science fiction genre. In Hollywood these days, where superhero franchises rule the box office, this film seems to be a breath of fresh air telling the story of a real-life hero.
After the end of World War II, the cold war continued between two giant superpowers i.e. America and The Soviet Union. One of the races was to become the first country to land on and explore the moon. The film highlights this issue in the beginning, showing the struggles and the journey of the American Space Program and their approach towards the
Neil was selected to be in the team of the three people who would go to the moon in the Apollo 11 Mission. The other members were Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. However, this historic feat was not achieved in a single year, rather it took many years and even lives to shape and develop a perfect program. Neil’s competency was never argued and rejected as he performed exceptionally well at each step. In the movie, a melancholy tone gripped the entire plot which would surely intrigue the audience and keep them interested till the end. It also showed the views of the Americans who were critical of the program and NASA itself.
The script was written by Josh Singer and was based on the book First Man: The Life of Neil Armstrong by James R. Hansen. What I loved about the film was it’s out of the world music by Justin Horowitz, the Academy award-winning composer of films like Whiplash and La La Land. It was the fantastic tunes and melodies that wonderfully complemented each scene and made it even more stunning. At times it was satisfying and at times it was beautiful enough to take your breath away. The final moments of the film showed the true compassion and nature of Neil Armstrong, who was previously presented as a rather calm and reserved human. One scene was so well crafted that I am sure it’ll bring tears to the viewer’s eyes.
Unfortunately, the film suffered some major setbacks in the box-office as well as the general audience in the USA due to some controversies. Some argued that this film should’ve discussed more aspects of the Apollo mission to the moon and should’ve included more stories and people. The major trouble was created when people said that it was very wrong not to include the moment when the American flag was placed on the lunar surface. Ryan Gosling, the lead actor, said that it was not the story of the Americans but a hero who was human and who didn’t care any less about the flag. He said that it was an achievement for the whole humanity, and it would contradict the famous words of Neil himself that were, “This is one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”. Also, this film included several of his famous quotes including the iconic phrase, “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed”.
The movie had amazing cinematography, direction, soundtrack and acting among other things. Ryan and Claire Foy performed exceptionally well and brought life to their characters. The supporting cast was also great and the director Damien Chazelle, just like his other hit movies, proved that he would soon stand out in the line of best directors of the century. Visually, the efforts of the editors and visual effects artists must be appreciated as replicating the landing wasn’t as an easy step as it sounded. Every department did their best. Certain moments may bore those having a short attention span but can be compensated by other stupefying bits. Neil Armstrong’s sons also applauded the movie and it’ll be remembered in the years to come as a masterfully crafted work of art.
It is a daunting task to portray such a hero but, in my opinion, it was a job well done. Portraying human emotions, a historic scheme, and a dangerous expedition needs skills and work which was aptly done by the entire team of this film. It will certainly inspire many who like to dream big and work hard while facing extreme personal issues. It is a lesson that if a human possesses humility and commitment, nothing can stop from him/her from going to the moon and back. Literally!
Maham Maqsood is the Managing Editor at Scientia Pakistan. She is a senior at Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad studying Biochemistry. An avid reader and a freelance writer, Maham has worked for several organizations including Globalizon and MIT Technology Review Pakistan.