With the 50th anniversary of the moon landing coming up in July 2019 (1969) the film is purposely well timed. It takes me, like many I’m sure, back to when my mother, not given to visionary moments, said come outside and look at the moon, there are men on it up there, and so we stood in our back garden looking up at history being made. Fifty years later, my mother long dead, I, now at her age then, and Michael (naturally game to see the film) go to the friendly, community run pop up cinema at Blythburgh Village Hall, where we are warmly welcomed by this tight community. (It was as uncertain as those times then – the DVD player broke and finding an old fashioned DVD player in the village was challenging. The sound was not perfect the American voices hard to understand, but we got jist)
Told through the eyes of Neil Armstrong, now dead (he died in 2012), the film is based on a biography of Armstrong, but also draws on the first hand experience from Armstrongs two sons, and his two co-pilots Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, still alive. It had a definite feel of authenticity. From the hand held camera uncertainty methodology that framed the illness and death of Armstrongs beloved 2 year old daughter at the beginning that informed the life of Armstrong (did he take her bracelet to the moon and leave it there? mix of fact, educated guesswork, and fiction, I gather), to the facing of his two sons before he leaves to admit he may not come back. That moment was orchestrated by his wife, played brilliantly by the English actreess Claire Foy)
The film conveys the punch and peril, uncertainty, of contingency, of the vast unknown that Armstrong and his colleagues faced.The meccano equipment, bolts, leavers, the crazy juddering, the decisions that had to be made, the sacrifices (the fire in the space cockpit with the 3 astronauts burnt alive was visceral). The prepared script was read out of what would be announced in the event of an Apollo failure and death of the astronauts.
Neil Amrstrong (Ryan Gosling) is a private, taciturn, driven man of very few words and a face that intrigued, I wanted to read it, to see what it revealed. Why space exploration? he was asked at the NASSA interview:
“It allows us to see things. May be things seen a long time ago’.
Produced by Speilburg, it is Directed by Damien Chazelle (American French). who is an ambitious filmmaker who makes films about ambition. (Whiplash and La La Land).