First Man explores the private life of Neil Armstrong, perhaps the most private, world-famous person who ever existed. Marco Rubio, Fox News and even Buzz Aldrin have called First Man “un-American”. We found First Man to be a beautiful film, which showed that Neil Armstrong was truly an American hero in the best tradition of the word.
Neil Armstrong never sought fame or fortune and never called himself a hero. He was an intellectually gifted engineer, who took space flight very seriously. His ability to keep his emotions in check and stay calm in unimaginably stressful situations is what made him a great astronaut.
First Flight shows the harrowing flight of Gemini 8 on which Dave Scott and Neil Armstrong were within seconds of dying in space. The valve for a maneuvering rocket malfunctioned and would not shut off. This started the spacecraft spinning faster and faster until it was rotating at 1 revolution per second and accelerating. The astronauts were withing 40 seconds of passing out, after which the Gemini 8 capsule would have become their metal space tomb. Neil Armstrong stayed calm, took manual control from the computer, and saved their lives. He was annoyed later that after the flight, Time Magazine made a cover story of the event.
The most important thing in Neil Armstrong’s life was not his NASA career, but his family. Neil Armstrong was devastated when his young daughter died of cancer. After that, he was so upset he had trouble talking about her, even with his wife Janet. During his daughter’s early cancer treatment, Neil Armstrong stayed out of the space program so that he could spend time with his daughter.
Ryan Gosling is perfect as Neil Armstrong. Claire Foy is wonderful as Janet Shearon Armstrong, showing how difficult it is to remain strong and run a family when your husband might die at any second.
Jason Clarke plays Ed White, a fellow astronaut. Ed and Patricia White (played by Olivia Hamilton), were close friends of the Armstrongs.
It was devastating when Ed White, Gus Grissom and Roger Chaffee were burned to death during a freak accident on the Apollo launch pad.
So why is First Man controversial with some people? They complain that First Man did not focus on the planting of the American flag on the moon, or the fact that 100% of the spacecraft was manufactured in the United States. They complain that First Man showed that there were people who were against the billions of dollars spent on the space program instead of being spent to help poor Americans.
People who call First Man un-American miss the whole point of the show. First Man was not about the country as a whole, or the legend of Neil Armstrong. As the title implies, First Man is about the man Neil Armstrong, who remains shrouded in mystery despite being one of the best known American Heroes in history.
Even after becoming the first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong chose to stay out of the spotlight as much as possible. He could have gone into politics or made a fortune working for an aerospace company. Instead, he continued working for NASA, and after retiring from NASA ended his career as a college professor.
So what did the people who knew Neil Armstrong best think of First Flight? Neil’s son Mark Armstrong has said that First Man gives a true portrayal of his parents. That is good enough for us.
We Give First Man Five Stars *****