Buzz Aldrin appears to have weighed in on the flap over Neil Armstrong biopic First Man, tweeting a 1969 photo of the pair standing on the moon with the American flag they planted there. Now 88, Aldrin was the second man to set foot on the moon minutes after Armstrong’s historic “giant leap for mankind.” In his missive, he included the hashtags: #proudtobeanAmerican #freedom #honor #onenation #Apollo11 #July1969 #roadtoApollo50.
Ryan Gosling plays Armstrong and Corey Stoll is Aldrin in Damien Chazelle’s space epic, personal drama, thriller and science-fan funfair. It was warmly embraced when it world premiered on the Venice Film Festival’s opening night last week. It then landed in Telluride, has received rave reviews and has Oscar pundits buzzing.
But what Deadline’s Pete Hammond has called an “absurdly ridiculous dust-up” has also surfaced as another faction — the vast majority of which has not seen the movie — has been riled by the filmmakers’ choice to not make a centerpiece spectacle of the planting of the star-spangled banner during the legendary moon landing; rather they opted to focus on a deeply personal moment for the lead character.
The flag is visible on the moon and seen several times throughout the movie. But many online believe the omission may have been deliberate.
When I met with the producers in Venice, between the press screenings and the gala premiere, I asked them what was behind the decision not to include the moment. Wyck Godfrey told me, “Damien wanted to be truly emotionally back with the character (Armstrong) and process the emotional journey.”
La La Land Oscar winner Chazelle responded to critics on Friday, saying he chose to reflect parts of Armstrong’s life others didn’t know about, and that it was not a political statement. “I wanted the primary focus in that scene to be on Neil’s solitary moments on the moon — his point of view as he first exited the LEM, his time spent at Little West Crater, the memories that may have crossed his mind during his lunar EVA.”
Armstrong’s sons Rick and Mark, and First Man author James R Hansen, in a separate statement, also backed the movie’s choices. It next heads to the Toronto Film Festival.
Here’s Aldrin’s tweet: