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First Man, ( Venice Opening film): One Giant Step for Mankind that has never gotten any further

By Alex Deleon

Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong: The all-American Astronaut

Sketch by Nesta Morgan

First Man directed by Damien Chazelle with Ryan Godling in a new space!

The most peculiar thing about the American moon landing of July 1969 Is how quickly it was forgotten and the vaunted Space Race with Russia shelved.  Also odd how quickly overnight space hero Neil Armstrong, the first man ever to set foot on the moon, faded into obscurity after his fifteen minutes of international fame. Had further space exploration been followed up with the same zeal now, half a century later, we might be sitting on Mars. 

However, seen in longer perspective it becomes clear that this was primarily President Kennedy's exorbitantly expensive way of one upping the Russians after getting finessed by Sputnik, then getting on with more down to earth matters.

In a surprising departure from the razzamatazz of his last film, La la Land, Damien Chazelle gets down to grim nitty gritty reality showing how borderline primitive the space technology of 1969 was and how unromantic it was for the astronauts to be strapped into a coffin like space capsule on a mission that was far from 100% guaranteed to succeed.   The movie is a sober retelling of the events leading up to the moon shot and follows head astronaut and first moon walker. Neil Armstrong up through his Nasa preparations and family farewells.

(Tell the kids you might not come back, Daddy)
 

The awesome feeling of finally being on the moon after a death defying space journey is conveyed but in a puposefully demystified fashion.  These guys were just doing their jobs, right?

Ryan Gosling is a steely stoic tightly restrained Armstrong, almost too restrained for comfort.  This is not a comfortable biopic but one that will make us rethink an important milestone of XX Century. American History.  After the pitiful flip flop of Bladerunner 2, (the lifeless remake) Gosling is back with a stolid performance that will solidify his position on the Hollywood A-list.

 

A mini controversy  revolves about the fact that director Damien chose not to include  a scene showing  the planting of an American flag on the moon. First Man Star Ryan Gosling who is Canadian defends the decision by saying we chose to make this a step for Mankind, not just for America.  Historical revisionism? --or Political Correctness at the international level.   Critical reaction at Venice has been highly positive with murmurs of Oscar possibilities, but then they say that about lots of films that are not overly extraordinary. 

 First Man: Le premier homme sur la lune

 Ryan Gosling Photo by Daniel McFadden - © (c) 2018 Universal. All Rights Reserved.                             


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About Mostra Internazionale d Arte Cinematografica Venice


Oldest festival in the world, MOSTRA is Non-specialised competitive event for features and shorts. Two competing sections and three Prizes: the Golden Lion, the Lion of the Year and the Lion of the Future to best director`s debut film.

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