First Man

On my weekly #ArtistDate day I had to stay close to home; no adventures deep into the desert. So, I went to see the movie First Man. It’s based on the book First Man: The Life of Neil Armstrong by James R. Hansen. Yes, it’s another going to the moon story, but there’s something about this movie that’s different. There are these wonderful first person scenes, where it’s filmed in a way that lets the viewer see and to some extent feel what it’s like to be in the seat, strapped in, traveling through time and space, being launched from a rocket. Really, pretty amazing.

They’ve also managed to capture the 70s incredibly well. Perhaps not all of the politics–I don’t know that Vietnam was mentioned–but they captured the dark mood and style of the time. We lived with dark colors and dark paneling and thick shag carpeting. We didn’t have bright convenience or access to knowledge and so we had to study and learn through the darkness. This is captured incredibly well in the settings. Dirty public bathrooms, dark living interiors, small, tight spaces.

Finally, there’s also a sadness portrayed between Neil Armstrong and his wife. It’s this sadness that brings, for me, the sense of honesty about the experience. It seems the going to the moon movies are often about astronauts with smiles and hands waved toward the public. The moments of tragedy aren’t fully acknowledged. First Man acknowledges the tragedies and the sadness and captures the relationship between the Armstrong’s in a way I’ve never seen portrayed before. Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy were amazing. I don’t want to create a spoiler, but in their final scene together, without words, the two convey a level of emotion on the screen that’s simply wonderful and amazing.

This film feels human and dark and honest. And it left me with more questions that will probably never be answered.

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