With historical space drama “First Man,” Damien Chazelle said it was important to show Neil Armstrong’s down-to-earth, “quotidian reality” while still showcasing his stellar achievements of flying to the moon.
“I think the thing that interested me the most was finding out how difficult this period of Neil’s life was,” Chazelle told TheWrap at the Toronto International Film Festival. “Growing up, I thought of the moon landing as this great success story and I think the history of it has been cast in this glow that lives in the aftermath of the success. But when you unwind and look back… I got a sense of such sacrifice, such loss, such hardships, such trauma at times, that made me ask questions that I tried to ask in earlier movies as well: What the cost of a goal is and what the worth of a goal is, and there’s no more famous goal than landing someone on the moon.”
“First Man” stars Ryan Gosling as Armstrong, and also stars Claire Foy, Kyle Chandler, Jason Clarke, Corey Stoll and Pablo Schreiber.
Josh Singer, who wrote the screenplay for the film that’s already gaining awards buzz, said that initially, a film about Neil Armstrong kind of sounded “bland,” but he soon realized otherwise.
“But when you get into the detail of what you had to deal with, I was just blown away,” said Singer. “The amount of loss, the amount of sacrifice, the amount of failure… seeing these failures in and out throughout this story just made it all the more inspiring.”
Ultimately, what the filmmakers wanted to achieve with the drama was portraying Armstrong’s family life while not taking away from his massive achievement of being the first man to walk on the moon.
“What fascinated us the most and what we wanted to keep getting at was again that sense of reality, that sense of bringing it all down to earth, creating family scenes and dynamic and show how terrifying and visceral these missions would be,” added Chazelle. “There was a normalcy and quotidian reality at the heart of this.”
Lastly, the filmmaker said that, for most of the people growing up in the Houston area near NASA, “their parents were just doing their jobs — they weren’t making history.”
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