First Man: A Human Achievement

That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

By Contributing Writer, Haroon Shareef

My first thoughts after watching this at home was that I’m going to hell for not watching First Man on the big screen—it was too good and not at all what I expected. First Man takes us into the world of Neil Armstrong, giving us a firsthand experience into his perspective. This is a film that everyone must watch and witness Neil put himself aside for his work. There’s only a few out there who were as dedicated and selfless as Armstrong.

Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong

Fresh after 14 Oscar nominations (and winning six of them) for La La Land, Damien Chazelle directs First Man, a spectacular and touching sci-fi film. It’s beautiful, intense, and breathtaking, with a captivating score and brilliant acting by Ryan Gosling—Gosling portrays Neil Armstrong perfectly. The visuals are breathtaking. This film was nowhere near dull as I loved every second of the movie.

Space exploration allows us to see things that maybe we should’ve seen a long time ago, but just haven’t been able to until now

First Man was based on the book ‘First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong’, written by James R Hansen. This Neil Armstrong biopic focuses entirely on Neil Armstrong and not really on the NASA-Moon aspect. The film never denies the truth of American achievement, and it only uplifts it .

“There are risks, but we have every intention of coming back. “

The film is very human and feels very real. The film portrayed the journey the way the audience wants to look it from, whether it’s a ‘heroic’ or an ’emotional & personal’ journey. Claire Foy plays Janet, the wife of Armstrong, and the family scenes were touching with incredible acting, including their kids. The scene where Neil tells his kids about Apollo 11 and that he has every intention to come back was a terrific one. Foy’s character made First Man a lot more special and heartbreaking.

The cinematography was on point throughout the film, with the space scenes being especially thrilling and beautifully shot—they showed pressure and realism. Chazelle’s camera work and the camera widening during the moon landing was amazing! I loved how everything on the moon looks very sharp and crystal clear.

Also, the score is so good throughout the film. Justin Hurwitz, the composer who also worked on La La Land and Whiplash, successfully showed his magic once again, and it enhanced the movie well.

Claire Foy as Janet Shearon

Neil Armstrong, even after the death of his young daughter, continued to work towards achieving NASA’s dream. I love that during the scene at the moon, Chazelle focuses on Neil and him leaving his daughter’s bracelet on the moon instead of showcasing Buzz Aldrin putting up the flag. According to Gosling, the landing was a “human achievement” and that Armstrong didn’t view himself as an “American hero.”

I also think Neil was extremely humble, as were many of these astronauts, and time and time again he deferred the focus from himself to the 400,000 people who made the mission possible.

Ryan Gosling

I think Ryan Gosling has continued to prove in this film that he is one of the best actors working today. Neil is a man who is serious and is dedicated towards his craft—he was never emotionless, and his emotions played a huge part in his journey to keep going ahead even after the demise of his daughter. This was portrayed really well by Gosling, and why this movie resonates so emotionally with the audience.

This year’s crop of Academy Awards nominations & winners were the most disappointing one in many years, but one of the few things I’m happy about is First Man’s nomination for four Oscars including Best Production Design, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Visual Effects, winning the Oscar for Best Visual Effects. This year’s Best Picture nominations are sloppy with ‘just good’ films and compared to most of them (especially the winner Green Book); First Man should’ve been up for Best Picture.