×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘First Man’ Director, Screenwriter Defend Film After Flag Controversy

First Man” director Damien Chazelle and writer Josh Singer defended the film amid controversy over its exclusion of a key moment in the first moon landing: astronaut Neil Armstrong planting the U.S. flag on the moon.

Chazelle said the focus was more on paying “tribute to what this mission took.”

First Man” stars Ryan Gosling as Armstrong and centers on the years leading up to the Apollo 11 mission. Chazelle directed the movie from Singer’s script, which was based on James R. Hansen’s biography about Armstrong. Chazelle, Singer, and Gosling, as well as other cast members, spoke at the Variety Studio presented by AT&T at the Toronto Film Festival on Monday.

“[The moon landing] cost money, it tore families apart. There was this tremendous sacrifice and loss that came with the success story that we all know,” Chazelle said. “That, in some ways more than anything, was what motivated us — trying to put a human face to that toll and really pay tribute to the people who literally gave everything so that all of us can grow up knowing that people walked on the moon.”

Previously, Chazelle defended the film by saying that even though audiences don’t see the physical planting, there is a scene showing the flag standing on the moon’s surface.

“To address the question of whether this was a political statement, the answer is no,” Chazelle said in a statement on Aug. 31. “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.”

Singer told Variety on Monday that the film also chose to focus on Armstrong’s character and showcase other sides to the American icon.

“By focusing on that loss and sacrifice and failure, it humanizes this person who we think of as an idol and helps us really understand that this wasn’t easy, this wasn’t superheros that did it,” Singer added.

Gosling, who also worked with Chazelle on “La La Land,” said “it was a real honor to tell this story, but it was definitely a huge responsibility.” He previously said that the moon landing was not just an American achievement, but a “human achievement.”

Armstrong’s two sons and Hansen have also defended the film by saying they didn’t see it as “anti-American in the slightest.”

“Of course, it celebrates an America achievement. It also celebrates an achievement ‘for all mankind,’ as it says on the plaque Neil and Buzz [Aldrin] left on the moon,” they said in a statement late last month.

Aldrin, who was also on the mission and became the second person to walk on the moon, has tweeted photos of himself on the moon — each showing the flag — and a few pointed hashtags, like “#proudtobeanAmerican.”

Chazelle and Gosling have been working on “First Man” since the “La La Land” press tour. The space drama hits theaters on Oct. 12.

More Film

  • Fox Searchlight logo

    Film News Roundup: Fox Searchlight Launches Searchlight Shorts

    In today’s film news roundup, Fox Searchlight starts a shorts channel, Uma Thurman signs with ICM and Miramax signs animation exec Michael Lachance. SEARCHLIGHT SHORTS Fox Searchlight Pictures’ chairmen Nancy Utley and Stephen Gilula have announced the launch of “Searchlight Shorts” as a collection of short films. The shorts are available on Fox Searchlight’s YouTube [...]

  • ImMature - cr: MX Player

    Indian Streamers Ramp up Original Productions

    Ever since global streaming giants Amazon Prime Video and Netflix entered the Indian OTT space in 2016, the conversation around original series has mostly revolved around them, thanks in part to market leader 21st Century Fox’s Hotstar’s circumspect attitude at the time about producing content. Netflix had great success with “Sacred Games,” while Amazon rode [...]

  • WGA Agents Contract Tug of War

    Hollywood Agents, Writers Guild Make Little Progress in Talks

    Leaders of Hollywood agencies and the Writers Guild of America made little progress in Tuesday meeting to negotiate proposed rule revisions to how agents represent writers. The WGA said after the meeting — the fifth since Feb. 5 — that talks would resume later this week but did not give a specific day. “The Agencies [...]

  • Village Rockstars

    Female Filmmakers Are a Growing Voice in India

    The Indian film industry has historically been a male-dominated one, but the winds of change are blowing across the country, albeit slowly. Better-served than the rest of the country is the Mumbai-based Hindi-language industry, where there are several active female filmmakers including Zoya Akhtar (“Gully Boy”), Reema Kagti (“Gold”), Leena Yadav (“Rajma Chawal”), Gauri Shinde [...]

  • Florence Pugh

    Scarlett Johansson's 'Black Widow' Movie Adds Florence Pugh

    “Black Widow’s” web may soon be growing. Sources tell Variety that Florence Pugh is in talks to join Scarlett Johansson’s standalone superhero film. Pugh has been on the hot list for this second lead role since last fall, but Marvel wanted to open up the field to other actresses at the beginning of the year. [...]

  • Mira Lesmana Sets up Indonesia Remake

    Mira Lesmana Sets Up Indonesian Remake of CJ's 'Sunny'

    Indonesia’s Miles Film and Korea’s CJ Entertainment are to co-produce an Indonesian remake of Korean hit “Sunny.” The film is a female-driven dramedy about a group of adult friends who reunite 20 years after high school. Directed by Kang Hyoung-chul, “Sunny” was one of the highest-grossing movies in Korea when it was released in 2011. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content