STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Damien Chazelle defends 'First Man' amid flag controversy

Damien Chazelle has responded to criticism over his choice to omit the iconic planting of the American flag ...

Posted: Sep 4, 2018 6:26 AM
Updated: Sep 4, 2018 6:26 AM

Damien Chazelle has responded to criticism over his choice to omit the iconic planting of the American flag on the moon in his upcoming Neil Armstrong biopic.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times published Sunday, Chazelle said he has been "surprised" by the controversy because there are multiple historical moments he opted to leave out of the movie.

Arts and entertainment

Celebrities

Damien Chazelle

Movies

Neil Armstrong

"It surprised me because there are so many things that we weren't able to focus on not only during the lunar EVA but in the entirety of Apollo 11," Chazelle said. "Just by the nature of the story we were telling, we just couldn't go into every detail. So our through-line became -- especially at this part of the movie where it's the final emotional journey for Neil -- what were the private, unknown moments of Neil on the moon?"

"The flag was not a private, unknown moment for Neil," Chazelle continued. "It's a very famous moment and it wasn't Neil alone. We included the famous descent down the ladder because that's him alone, literally first feeling what it's like to be on the moon. But other than that, we only wanted to focus on the unfamous stuff on the moon. So we don't go into the phone call with Nixon, we don't go into the scientific experiments, we don't go into reentry."

Related: Ryan Gosling defends 'First Man' amid American flag controversy

Chazelle also issued a statement to clarify that the American flag is shown on the moon's surface in the film.

"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," Chazelle wrote in part. "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."

Armstrong's sons, Rick and Mark, and "First Man" author James R. Hansen have also weighed in, telling The Hollywood Reporter that they support the film and Chazelle's directing choices.

"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," they wrote in a statement.

"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," they added. "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."

Ryan Gosling, who plays Armstrong in the film, also defended the movie while at the Venice Film Festival last week.

"I think this was widely regarded in the end as a human achievement [and] that's how we chose to view it," Gosling reportedly said. "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."

CNN has reached out to Chazelle's representatives for comment.

"First Man" will be released October 12.

Huntsville
Broken Clouds
89° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 95°
Florence
Clear
85° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 92°
Fayetteville
Scattered Clouds
77° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 78°
Decatur
Broken Clouds
89° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 95°
Scottsboro
Scattered Clouds
91° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 98°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 41362

Reported Deaths: 983
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson4944152
Montgomery4021103
Mobile4005134
Tuscaloosa222642
Marshall170210
Lee135937
Madison13597
Shelby122723
Morgan10715
Walker91424
Elmore90314
Franklin88914
Dallas8799
Baldwin8469
Etowah72713
DeKalb7075
Butler62428
Chambers62427
Tallapoosa58869
Autauga58312
Russell5450
Unassigned50323
Lauderdale4896
Limestone4810
Houston4794
Lowndes46721
Cullman4394
Pike4205
Colbert3916
Coffee3732
Bullock36810
St. Clair3662
Covington3547
Barbour3472
Escambia3376
Calhoun3325
Hale31021
Talladega3037
Marengo30211
Wilcox2908
Sumter28412
Dale2820
Clarke2736
Jackson2682
Winston2543
Chilton2392
Monroe2342
Blount2301
Pickens2276
Marion21913
Conecuh2047
Randolph2009
Choctaw19512
Bibb1871
Macon1859
Greene1838
Perry1701
Henry1323
Crenshaw1253
Lawrence1070
Washington1057
Cherokee857
Geneva790
Lamar751
Fayette681
Clay642
Coosa581
Cleburne361
Out of AL00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 50140

Reported Deaths: 637
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby11560198
Davidson10726118
Rutherford291935
Hamilton271635
Sumner159352
Trousdale14965
Williamson126815
Out of TN11647
Knox11425
Wilson91017
Putnam8827
Robertson82611
Sevier7903
Lake6910
Bradley6743
Tipton6375
Unassigned6351
Bledsoe6191
Bedford5595
Montgomery5497
Macon4523
Maury3423
Hardeman3295
Hamblen3174
Fayette3122
Madison2912
Loudon2801
Rhea2780
Dyer2481
McMinn23218
Cheatham2251
Blount2183
Dickson2060
Cumberland1804
Lawrence1576
Washington1490
Lauderdale1433
Monroe1386
Anderson1342
Gibson1281
Jefferson1270
Coffee1170
Smith1161
Sullivan1162
Obion1122
Hardin1097
Greene1012
Cocke910
Haywood912
Marshall891
Franklin843
Wayne820
Hickman800
Warren730
Marion704
White703
McNairy690
DeKalb660
Lincoln630
Weakley631
Overton611
Roane610
Grundy591
Giles581
Carter571
Hawkins562
Unicoi550
Campbell481
Carroll481
Henderson450
Polk450
Claiborne440
Henry440
Johnson440
Grainger420
Sequatchie380
Cannon360
Crockett353
Chester340
Perry340
Meigs320
Humphreys271
Jackson260
Morgan251
Stewart230
Decatur220
Fentress220
Union180
Scott170
Clay160
Houston150
Benton131
Moore120
Van Buren80
Lewis60
Pickett60
Hancock40

 

 

Community Events