First Man

Universal Pictures

One small step for man, one giant leap for Internet outrage!

Ryan Gosling reunited with his "La La Land" director Damien Chazelle for "First Man." Early reviews see it as an Oscar contender, but it's already getting more headlines for the flag controversy.

Canadian actor Gosling plays American astronaut Neil Armstrong in an intimate film trying to showcase the man behind the legend. And even though there are shots of the American flag on the moon, the film chose not to show the actual planting of the flag on the moon.

Gosling told the Telegraph that Armstrong's achievement "transcended countries and borders"; the moon walk "was widely regarded not as an American, but as a human achievement." Gosling said, after talking to Armstrong's family, he got a better picture of the man. "I don't think Neil viewed himself as an American hero, quite the opposite."

Gosling's various quotes -- and the film's lack of a flag-planting scene -- faced backlash from people calling the film un-American for downplaying the American achievement.

The backlash also got its own backlash:

Buzz Aldrin -- the only other person who was actually there when the flag was planted -- posted this tweet at the same time the debate was raging. It's hard to see that as a coincidence:

Neil Armstrong's sons Rick and Mark, and "First Man" author James R. Hansen shared a statement on the controversy:

Damien Chazelle also shared a statement:

"In 'First Man' I show the American flag standing on the lunar surface, but the flag being physically planted into the surface is one of several moments of the Apollo 11 lunar EVA that I chose not to focus upon.

To address the question of whether this was a political statement, the answer is no. My goal with this movie was to share with audiences the unseen, unknown aspects of America’s mission to the moon — particularly Neil Armstrong’s personal saga and what he may have been thinking and feeling during those famous few hours. 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.

This was a feat beyond imagination; it was truly a giant leap for mankind. This film is about one of the most extraordinary accomplishments not only in American history, but in human history. My hope is that by digging under the surface and humanizing the icon, we can better understand just how difficult, audacious and heroic this moment really was."

"First Man" opens in theaters October 12.

[Via: THR, Twitter]

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