Neil Armstrong’s sons have defended First Man, the upcoming biopic about the astronaut, against claims that the film is “anti-American” for not capturing the moment Armstrong planted the American flag on the Moon.
Following the premiere of First Man – directed by Damien Chazelle and starring Ryan Gosling as Armstrong – at the Venice Film Festival, conservative pundits attacked the film as unpatriotic for omitting the historic moment on the lunar surface. However, Armstrong’s sons Rick and Mark, along with First Man author James R. Hansen, defended Chazelle’s cinematic decision.
“This story is human and it is universal. Of course, it celebrates an America achievement. It also celebrates an achievement ‘for all mankind,'” the Armstrongs and Hansen said in a statement (via the Associated Press). “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.”
Chazelle similarly addressed the controversy at the Venice Film Festival, where First Man was met with acclaim following its debut.
“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,” Chazelle said. “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.”
First Man, Chazelle’s first film since he won Best Director for La La Land, opens October 12th