Neil Armstrong's sons defend 'First Man' from critics calling it "anti-American" for not including flag planting scene

Rick and Mark Armstrong, as well their father's biographer have come out to defend 'First Man' from criticism by conservative pundits and commentators.


                            Neil Armstrong's sons defend 'First Man' from critics calling it "anti-American" for not including flag planting scene

'First Man,' the upcoming American biographical drama film by Oscar-winning director Damien Chazelle on the 1969 moon landing, has been oddly criticized by some conservative politicians and commentators as 'anti-American.' The film had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on August 29, in the aftermath of which some quarters have taken an issue to the fact that it did not depict Neil Armstrong's iconic flag-planting scene.

Others took offense to lead actor Ryan Gosling's comments on the same after the airing. Asked why the scene was omitted, the 37-year-old had said he does not think that the astronaut "viewed himself as an American hero" and that his accomplishments "transcend countries and borders." He added that they wanted the film to "reflect Neil."



 

However, the movie has received a thumbs up from Armstrong's sons, Rick and Mark, as well as his biographer James R Hansen, who have defended 'First Man' in a joint statement. According to Fox, the statement argues that Chazelle's feature is "quite the opposite of anti-American" and that the most recent comments were made by those who "haven't seen the movie."

"This story is human and it is universal. Of course, it celebrates an America achievement. It also celebrates an achievement 'for all mankind,'" the statement read. "The filmmakers chose to focus on Neil looking back at the earth, his walk to Little West Crater, his unique, personal experience of completing this journey, a journey that has seen so many incredible highs and devastating lows."

Following the outrage on social media, Chazelle himself came out with a statement addressing why he chose to leave out such an iconic scene. He explained there was no political motive and that the decision was purely an aesthetic one, adding that he wanted to portray the challenges of the moon landing through Armstrong's eyes.

Chazelle insisted that the decision to not include the flag planting scene was an aesthetic one (Source:  Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Chazelle insisted that the decision to not include the flag planting scene was an aesthetic one (Source:  Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

"The flag being physically planted into the surface is one of several moments of the Apollo 11 lunar EVA [extravehicular activity] that I chose not to focus upon," Chazelle said in the statement. "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."

Chazelle achieved widespread fame for writing and directing 'La La Land,' which also happened to star Gosling in the titular role. It went on to become one of the highest-grossing musicals of all-time and received a record-tying fourteen Oscar nominations, winning six, including a Best Director for Chazelle; it made him the youngest-ever recipient of the award.

But the 33-year-old still views 'First Man' as a great accomplishment. "This was a feat beyond imagination; it was truly a giant leap for mankind," he said. "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."

'First Man' is scheduled to be released in the United States on October 12.