For an event as significant as the Moon landing, it’s surprising that it has taken this long for a major movie to depict the mission. But almost 50 years after Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set foot on the moon, First Man (opens in new tab) is here to show the true cost that went into the Apollo 11 mission, and the sacrifices that were made so that Armstrong could take that small footstep and the metaphorical giant leap that went with it.
Reuniting Oscar-winning director Damien Chazelle with his La La Land (opens in new tab) star Ryan Gosling, First Man looks at the journey to the Moon in granular detail. Covering the decade leading up to 1969’s landing, the film looks at the journey with a cool eye, highlighting the costs involved (both human and literal) without casting judgement. Was it ultimately worth it? That’s for the audience to decide.
Gosling steps into Armstrong’s moonboots to play the stoic commander, and you can see him in action below in these exclusive images, courtesy of our sister publication Total Film magazine (opens in new tab). One image shows Gosling’s Armstrong shortly after escaping a test vehicle that’s now a flaming wreck, and another shows him suited up for a mission, and there’s a behind-scenes shot as the crew prepare to board the Apollo 11 shuttle. Check them out in full below:
First Man marks a change of pace for director Chazelle, whose previous features have been very much music-focused. “Certainly, I felt the change,” he tells Total Film. “I mean, this is the first time I’ve made a movie that’s not, in some ways, reflecting my own experiences. I’ve obviously never been on a spacecraft. I didn’t live in the ’60s.”
It’s also not a subject matter that immediately appealed to Chazelle when the project was first brought to him. “I certainly didn’t feel like I wanted to do a biopic. But I think when I started diving into the materials, almost kind of by chance… the mission to the Moon and the idea what that mission meant and what it took and what it cost: that started really fascinating me.”
The film also offers the opportunity to get under the skin of Neil Armstrong, a man who remained something of a mystery, despite being one of the most famous names on (or off) the planet. “Neil Armstrong was obviously someone I thought that I knew about,” Gosling tells Total Film. “I knew his contribution to history, but it turns out that was about it.”
First Man opens on 12 October, and you can read much more from Chazelle, Gosling, and co-star Claire Foy in the new issue of Total Film magazine (opens in new tab) which is on sale now. Inside you’ll also find the latest on Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald and Bumblebee, as well as in-depth features and interviews for Halloween (opens in new tab), The Girl in the Spider's Web, Overlord, and much more.
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