[Movie Review] First Man; The Personal Story Behind the First Man’s Landing on the Moon

Many people know that Neil Armstrong was the first man to set foot on the Moon, and are familiar with the phrase ” That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind .” First Man isn’t just a retelling of humanity’s great achievements, but director Damien Chazelle’s latest work takes us into the personal perspective of Neil Armstrong and the NASA astronauts on project Gemini and finally on to Apollo on the moon landing. It is this personal approach that makes it not only an exciting space exploration film, but also has a story that makes me immersed and carried away until my eyes don’t feel watery.

Josh Singer’s narrative ( The Post , Spotlight ) is a little slow, but it runs with certainty, capturing important moments in Neil Armstrong’s life during the 8-year process that led him to the Moon. With a duration of 138 minutes, this has the potential to make the audience bored, but for me it is actually interesting. How is Neil Armstrong’s portrayal as a closed person even by his friends and wife, a description of how he is a calculation expert from when he faces a critical situation in space to when he faces his son’s illness, moments of loss, to how he deals with problems that he doesn’t fully understand. Through this film I got to know a side of Neil Armstrong that I didn’t know before, and that’s whyFirst Man for me is a cool biopic .

Previously, in La La Land – a super good film whose review can be seen here – cinematographer Linus Sandgren used colorful color tones to describe the mood , this time he uses color textures that show an old school impression. This is intended in addition to adjusting the settings in the ’60s as well as to add a personal impression that is coupled with the use of a home video -style handheld camera.. Not only that, the camera is often placed so close to highlight facial expressions and eyes, which is accompanied by the brilliant performances of Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong and Claire Foy as his wife, Janet. When Gosling revives feelings of fear and loneliness, Claire Foy with all the anxiety, emotion, and burden she carries, illustrates that the astronaut family also makes sacrifices.

However, that doesn’t mean First Man doesn’t have amazing space moments, even this film has 3 memorable moments . Each flight sequence is always through the use of a close-up view so that we are invited to enter the plane and share the same experience. The rattling sound of metal, the lack of lighting, the many buttons, and only being able to “peek” out of the small window; all of this makes me really goosebumps and nervously feel claustrophobia . Damien Chazelle and Josh Singer seem to want to show that space travel is not only a scientific achievement but also a success in avoiding death.

The use of the shaky cam used by Linus Sandgren and editing by Tom Cross (who is also the editor of Whiplash and La La Land ) managed to make me dizzy, which was a dilemma because I, who don’t really like this method, felt that it was a loss that I couldn’t enjoy some scenes clearly. but on the other hand, this kind of approach makes it even more realistic which has succeeded in making me as the audience be placed right next to the character. I’m also sure that if you watch it in 4DX format (which is unfortunately not available) the sensation will be more stable for each flight sequence, although the potential for vomiting will also be much greater.

Not only relying on tense moments, when the peak sequence when landing on the Moon was chosen using an approach of immersive calm. When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin (Corey Stoll) open the Lunar Module Eagle door and the camera slides outward and shows a panoramic view of the Moon’s surface, it’s an incredible sight. Even the decision to not use sound at all makes the shot even more powerful.In addition to Ryan Gosling’s breath, the audience’s breath was heard and 2 people could clearly be heard chanting “anjrit ..” (well, that’s me, one of them). Damien Chazelle may miss the moment of planting the USA flag – the flag can still be seen in some scenes – but the selected displays are equally spectacular and important. He also appropriately incorporates the music of his regular collaborator and college classmate, Justin Hurwitz, which is soft and immersive.

If in Whiplash the ending scene even without dialogue we can catch the change in the character’s attitude, and in La La Land the glances between Mia and Sebastian have hidden meanings, in First Man the ending has the same energy. Instead of choosing a cliché ending, cheering and welcoming like a hero, Neil and his wife chose an emotional ending. With his third work (let’s just say Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench is not included) always satisfying me and many people, Damien Chazelle has further established that he is a talented director and I am one of those fans who will always look forward to his next work.