“A Love Letter to Those Who Dream,” a review of “First Man” by Nathan H. Box
Recommendation: 5/5 Stars, SHOWTIME
Director: Damien Chazelle, Writers: Josh Singer, James R. Hansen, Starring: Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Jason Clarke
Plot: “A look at the life of the astronaut, Neil Armstrong, and the legendary space mission that led him to become the first man to walk on the Moon on July 20, 1969.” -IMDB
Review: After an end to the Apollo missions, the American love affair with space began to lie dormant. Sure, we’d tune in for another satellite being launched into the furthest reaches of space, parts added to the International Space Station, or an astronaut breaking “time in space” records. Recently, thanks to the likes of Elon Musk and American cinema, we’ve begun looking at the stars and collectively dreaming once again. “Interstellar,” “The Martian,” and “Gravity” have helped fuel this idea that something like a manned mission to Mars is possible. Before we go further than any man has ever gone before, it is necessary to pause and realize where we’ve been. “First Man” is about those men and women who dare and have dared to do the impossible.
Neil Armstrong is the center of this film and is played by a subdued, focused, and melancholy Ryan Gosling. To understand Armstrong’s motivation, you must fully grasp the personal and professional tragedies that plagued his life. It is the loss of his daughter coupled with the loss of colleagues in the pursuit of something seemingly impossible that pushes this man forward throughout this film. It also doesn’t hurt that in the early days of the space race, the Russians were dominating the fight. As an actor, Ryan, and the Director, Damien Chazelle, impress upon us this pressure and the stakes. At times, it is enough to make you sweat in your theater chair.
“First Man” is the personification of our romance with space; a love letter to those who dream. It stands as an example of the best of America and our pioneering spirit. Few of us, especially those of us born after 1969, fully realize the technical marvels and sacrifice needed to put a man on the moon. This film stands as yet another reminder, but not since “Apollo 13” have we been made to realize how hard this journey is and how hard it must have been on those men and their families who first broke free from our gravity.
The path to the moon was paved by life and death. So far, in my estimation, it is our greatest technical achievement. It will only be outdone by putting people on the face of Mars. Until then, we can celebrate the best of ourselves with this film.
Be good to each other,
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