‘First Man’ presents an authentic view into the life of astronaut Neil Armstrong

Alison Fellman, Entertainment Editor

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‘First Man’ is a 2018 historical film that chronicles the pioneering mission that sent man to the moon. Directed by Academy-Award winning director Damien Chazelle, it stars acclaimed actors Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong, and Claire Foy as his wife Janet Armstrong. Based on James R. Hanson’s biography of the same name, the film takes a detailed and honest look into the life of world-renowned astronaut Neil Armstrong. It delves into Armstrong’s family tragedy, his career in the United States space program, and his relationship with his wife.

The film begins in 1961 when Neil Armstrong, still reeling from the death of his young daughter, signs up for Project Gemini, a project meant to improve the techniques of advanced space travel. After Armstrong is accepted, he and his family relocate to Houston, Texas, where they befriend other astronaut families. Over the course of their time there, Armstrong experiences the deaths of several of his fellow astronauts, who tragically died in missions and tests gone amiss. These deaths cause Armstrong to relive his memories of his daughter, who he seldom speaks about. In 1968, Armstrong is chosen to lead the Apollo 11 mission, the mission that aspired to land the first people on the moon. He now faces the difficult task of explaining to his two young boys that he might not come back.

While preserving his stoic nature, ‘First Man’ is able to fully flesh-out the character and motives of Neil Armstrong, with the help of the detailed and modest performance of Ryan Gosling. Claire Foy delivers an excellent performance as Neil’s wife, Janet, and breaks the mold of the wife-waiting-at-home stereotype. While Foy’s Janet is deeply concerned about the well-being of her husband, she possesses a tough exterior and has no trouble giving someone a piece of her mind.

The film has a weighty, anxiety-ridden tone that is consistent all the way through. Even when two astronauts are marveling at the beauty of Earth’s atmosphere, the audience can’t help but wonder when something bad is going to happen.

‘First Man’ reveals the reality of space exploration like no other. A shaky camera, sounds of cranking and clunking, and the vibrations felt under the audience’s feet aid in creating a realistic portrayal of space travel, and by the end of the film it’s as if the viewer has gotten a taste of what it’s like to step into Neil Armstrong’s space boots.

‘First Man’ is rated PG-13, with a runtime of 2 hours and 18 minutes. It is playing in local theaters.




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