‘First Man’ Is Not a Biopic But a “Mission Movie” about the Terror of Space Travel

     April 17, 2018


There have been some truly great movies about space travel, and it’s possible that Damien Chazelle’s next film, First Man, could join their ranks. However, it won’t be the traditional, soft-focus biopic about the majesty of reaching the heavens. On the contrary, screenwriter Josh Singer (Spotlight) says it’s not a biopic about Neil Armstrong but a mission movie about the terror of reaching the moon.

“Damien had a very clear vision from the outset. He said, ‘Can we get across how challenging this was? Can we get across the visceral nature of this?’ The space program has been depicted, tonally, on the softer side in the past,” Singer told the Boston Globe. “Damien said, ‘I want to be terrified the entire time.’ It’s one of the earliest things we talked about. Neil’s heroism isn’t because he landed on the moon, it’s because he had the wherewithal to live through it all.”

Although I’m sure there will be some focus on Armstrong’s personal life, it sounds like they’re really delving into the minutiae of space travel that makes it terrifying and exhilarating like Apollo 13:

“This is 100 percent a mission movie. It’s about going to the moon as seen through the eyes of the guy who got there,” Singer said. “We have at least five major set pieces that are action, and if your heart rate doesn’t go through the roof, if you’re not gripping the edge of your seat the entire times, I’ll be shocked.”

Ryan Gosling is set to play Armstrong and he’ll co-star with Claire Foy, Kyle Chandler, Corey Stoll, and Jason Clarke.

Unless the movie is a tremendous flop, I wouldn’t be surprised to see First Man as a serious contender in this year’s Oscar race given the director and the subject matter. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see it hit the festival circuit before it opens in theaters on October 12th.

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