First Man director Damien Chazelle defended his upcoming film amid a backlash over its failure to acknowledge the mission as an American achievement by omitting the presence of the country’s flag in the moon landing scene.
Appearing at the Toronto Film Festival on Monday alongside the cast and fellow producers, Chazelle said the film was intended as a “tribute to what this mission took.”
“[The moon landing] cost money, it tore families apart. There was this tremendous sacrifice and loss that came with the success story that we all know,” Chazelle said. “That, in some ways more than anything, was what motivated us — trying to put a human face to that toll and really pay tribute to the people who literally gave everything so that all of us can grow up knowing that people walked on the moon.”
Chazelle’s comments come after he was forced to defend the film’s decision to omit the planting of the American flag, claiming the decision was not political.
“To address the question of whether this was a political statement, the answer is no,” Chazelle said in a statement last month. “I wanted the primary focus in that scene to be on Neil’s solitary moments on the moon — his point of view as he first exited the LEM, his time spent at Little West Crater, the memories that may have crossed his mind during his lunar EVA.”
Meanwhile, screenwriter Josh Singer also told Variety that the film intended to focus on Armstrong’s achievements as a human being.
“By focusing on that loss and sacrifice and failure, it humanizes this person who we think of as an idol and helps us really understand that this wasn’t easy, this wasn’t superheroes that did it,” Singer explained.
Many people, including President Donald Trump, reacted angrily to the producer’s decision to omit the American flag, with lead actor Ryan Gosling describing the mission as a “human achievement.” Last week, astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, who was part of the mission, tweeted photos affirming how he is “proud to be an American.”
— Buzz Aldrin (@TheRealBuzz) September 3, 2018
However, Neil Armstrong’s children have backed the film’s decision, saying they don’t see it as “anti-American in the slightest.”
“Of course, it celebrates an America achievement,” they said last month. “It also celebrates an achievement ‘for all mankind,’ as it says on the plaque Neil and Buzz [Aldrin] left on the moon.”