First Man

First Man
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Astronaut Neil Armstrong is hailed as an American hero who brought the human race to the moon for the first time. In director Damien Chazelle’s latest movie, First Man, Ryan Gosling plays Armstrong as a quietly ambitious, enigmatic man who endured grief and fear with stoicism as he worked to achieve his dreams and to advance science. Chazelle strikes a tone of intimate realism to capture the high stakes for the country and for NASA, but most of all for the Armstrong family.

After a mid-college tour of duty as a Navy pilot in Korea, Armstrong finished school, married Janet Shearon, started a family, and took a job as an experimental aircraft test pilot for NACA, the earlier version of NASA. He jumped at the opportunity to join NASA’s Project Gemini after tragedy struck his family.

The Armstrongs moved to Houston, where they settled near the other astronauts’ families and became a community of their own. This community was sorely tested with the losses of various astronauts, resulting in a natural fear for the husbands and fathers involved, but also in the promotion of Armstrong through the ranks. Claire Foy (The Crown) plays Janet Armstrong as a woman with enormous inner strength. She’s excited for her husband’s advancement but terrified of what it could mean for her and her family.

There were other costs too. Chazelle doesn’t shy away from the fact that many Americans were against the government spending that supported NASA. The Vietnam War was raging and the Civil Rights movement was mourning the loss of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Chazelle includes a performance from singer Leon Bridges as Gil Scott-Heron giving a rendition of the poem “Whitey on the Moon,” which contrasts the accomplishments of the white astronauts with the racial injustice suffered by Black Americans at the time. Many wondered, Why are we putting so many resources toward a moonshot when there was so much else going on?

While the film makes clear that Armstrong, NASA, and the American government were motivated by the race against Russia and the Russian aerospace achievements, this movie is more concerned with Armstrong’s conquering of his mind and body than about the American triumph over the space race. Ryan Gosling plays Armstrong with such restraint that the viewer often feels as completely shut out from his emotional state as his wife seemed to be.

First Man is filled with strong performances, talented direction, and beautiful cinematography that do justice to the amazing science of God’s vast creation and the awe-inspiring feat of the moon landing, as well as the emotional and financial toll the landing took on the astronauts, their families, and the nation. (Universal)

About the Author

Kristy Quist is Tuned In editor for The Banner and a member of Neland Ave. CRC in Grand Rapids, Mich.

See comments (1)


It is too bad that this movie, which claims to be a true and realistic story tracking Armstrong's desire to get to the moon, omits a couple of the most iconic images, one,  of Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin planting the United States flag. Once again we have Hollywood rewriting and editing history to make it fit their idea of what they want instead of giving movie goers the truth.  We read that the director and actors say it was not an acheivement of the Unikted States but of the world.  This could not be further from the truth.  They tell us the flag is seen in the movie (true but never explained how it got there or why it was so important to United States).   It is another way for the left to convince the world there should be no borders and we are all one big country.  For some reason it is considered "racist" to have pride in one's country.  The omission of the flag planting is the left making sure no one is proud of what this country accomplished. 

The truth is, raising the flag was a symbol of the single-minded pursuit that began with President John F. Kennedy's pledge to Congress on May 26, 1961.

"I believe THIS NATION should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth," Kennedy said. "No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space, and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish."  

The left tells us the moon landing was accomplished by all mankind and the United States has no right to claim it as an accomplishment of its citizens.  Once again Hollywood is wrong and pretending that it was the UN behind the moon mission is simply ludicrous. 

Of course there was nothing in the movie about Buzz Aldrin's taking communion after the landing.  

Before Armstrong and Aldrin stepped out of the lunar module on July 20, 1969, Aldrin took out a small plastic container of wine and some bread. He had brought them along from Webster Presbyterian church near Houston, where he was an elder. Aldrin  received permission from the Presbyterian church's general assembly to administer it to himself. In his book Magnificent Desolation he shares the message he then radioed to Nasa: "I would like to request a few moments of silence … and to invite each person listening in, wherever and whomever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours, and to give thanks in his or her own way."

He then ate and drank the elements. The Lord's Supper is described in an article by Aldrin in a 1970 copy of Guideposts magazine: "I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon the wine curled slowly and gracefully up the side of the cup. It was interesting to think that the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the first food eaten there, were communion elements."  Aldrin read the words of Jesus, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (Jn. 15:5) He also read Psalm 8: “You have set your glory in the heavens . . . When I consider the heavens, the words of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you have set in place . . . Who are we that you are mindful of us, human beings that you care for us?”

The moon landing was showing the majesty of God's universe and wherever we are there is God also; even 250,000 miles away from earth!