Neil Armstrong’s Sons, ‘First Man’ Author on Flag Omission: ‘We Do Not Feel This Movie Is Anti-American’

Complaints have been “made largely by people who haven’t seen the movie,” joint statement says

Last Updated: August 31, 2018 @ 3:17 PM

Neil Armstrong’s sons Rick and Mark, along with “First Man” author James R. Hansen, released a statement Friday addressing the flag omission from the film: “we do not feel this movie is anti-American in the slightest.”

Complaints against the moon mission film have been “made largely by people who haven’t seen the movie,” the joint statement to TheWrap said.

The statement comes after star Ryan Gosling said at a press conference at the Venice Film Festival earlier in the day: “I don’t think that Neil viewed himself as an American hero,” which sparked backlash from Sen. Marco Rubio criticizing the omission of the American flag being planted on the moon.

“I think this was widely regarded in the end as a human achievement [and] that’s how we chose to view it,” Canadian actor Gosling continued at the press conference, according to UK paper The Telegraph. “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.”

Armstrong’s sons went on to say, “there are numerous shots of the American flag on the moon.” They also added that “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.”

Read the full statement below:

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. As we’ve seen it multiple times, we thought maybe we should weigh in.

This is a film that focuses on what you don’t know about Neil Armstrong. It’s a film that focuses on things you didn’t see or may not remember about Neil’s journey to the moon. The filmmakers spent years doing extensive research to get at the man behind the myth, to get at the story behind the story. 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.

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.

Although Neil didn’t see himself that way, he was an American hero. He was also an engineer and a pilot, a father and a friend, a man who suffered privately through great tragedies with incredible grace. 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.

In short, we do not feel this movie is anti-American in the slightest. Quite the opposite. But don’t take our word for it. We’d encourage everyone to go see this remarkable film and see for themselves.

Early reviews call the portrayal of Neil Armstrong’s career an intimate, suspenseful drama complete with stunning technical achievements and a powerful, stoic, reserved, yet heroic performance from Ryan Gosling as Armstrong.