‘First Man’ Director Damien Chazelle & Neil Armstrong’s Family On Flag Flap: It’s Not A Political Statement

The filmmakers spent years doing extensive research to get at the man behind the myth, to get at the story behind the story. This is a film that focuses on what you don’t know about Neil Armstrong. It’s a movie that gives you unique insight into the Armstrong family and fallen American Heroes like Elliot See and Ed White. It’s a very personal movie about our dad’s journey, seen through his eyes. It’s a film that focuses on things you didn’t see or may not remember about Neil’s journey to the moon.
As we’ve seen it multiple times, we thought maybe we should weigh in. We’ve read a number of comments about the film today and specifically about the absence of the flag planting scene, made largely by people who haven’t seen the movie.
Here is Chazelle's statement:
Hansen, in separate statements, also backed the movie's choices, saying it's "a film that focuses on things you didn’t see or may not remember about Neil’s journey to the moon." Armstrong's sons Rick and Mark, and First Man author James R.


But don’t take our word for it. Quite the opposite. We’d encourage everyone to go see this remarkable film and see for themselves.” /> In short, we do not feel this movie is anti-American in the slightest.
My goal with this movie was to share with audiences the unseen, unknown aspects of America’s mission to the moon — particularly Neil Armstrong’s personal saga and what he may have been thinking and feeling during those famous few hours. To address the question of whether this was a political statement, the answer is no. In “First Man” I show the American flag standing on the lunar surface, but the flag being physically planted into the surface is one of several moments of the Apollo 11 lunar EVA that I chose not to focus upon.
The flag appears several times during the movie, which stars Ryan Gosling as Armstrong, but not having the iconic flag-plant has riled many online, including Sen. Marco Rubio.
This film is about one of the most extraordinary accomplishments not only in American history, but in human history. My hope is that by digging under the surface and humanizing the icon, we can better understand just how difficult, audacious and heroic this moment really was. This was a feat beyond imagination; it was truly a giant leap for mankind. 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.
But not all saw it that way, with a small backlash brewing over the lack of a scene showing Armstrong's planting of the American flag on the moon's surface during his legendary 1969 moon landing. Damien Chazelle's Neil Armstrong biopic First Man received good marks this week when it landed as the opening-night film at the Venice Film Festival.
Now Chazelle, the film's Oscar-winning director, has responded to critics, saying he chose to reflect parts of Armstrong's life other's didn't know about, and that it was not a political statement.
Here is the Armstrong-Hanson statement:
This story is human and it is universal. Of course, it celebrates an America achievement. It also celebrates an achievement “for all mankind,” as it says on the plaque Neil and Buzz left on the moon. It is a story about an ordinary man who makes profound sacrifices and suffers through intense loss in order to achieve the impossible.
This is why, though there are numerous shots of the American flag on the moon, the filmmakers chose to focus on Neil looking back at the earth, his walk to Little West Crater, his unique, personal experience of completing this journey, a journey that has seen so many incredible highs and devastating lows. He was also an engineer and a pilot, a father and a friend, a man who suffered privately through great tragedies with incredible grace. Although Neil didn’t see himself that way, he was an American hero.