A look at the life of the astronaut, Neil Armstrong

The movie “First Man” is a biopic taking a close and personal look at the life of Neil Armstrong and the events that led up to him becoming the first human to set foot on the moon. It details both the triumph and the tragedy of that tumultuous time through the lens of the people who lived it.

The movie begins almost a decade prior to the moon landing as Armstrong deals with a personal tragedy while attempting to get into the NASA Gemini project team. Instead of following the technical achievements of the project, the movie focuses instead on the emotional journey taken by the soon-to-be astronauts and their families. We watch the friendships grow as the families spend years bonding around their similar circumstances.

Anyone familiar with the Gemini project will know the risks that the pilots were taking every time they went up in these new and untested machines. They were test pilots in every sense, pushing the out-most limit of what could be achieved at that time with the material and technology available, inevitably things did not always go to plan. The way this film deals with the tragic events that befell the project is to show the effect this had on the pilots themselves, as well as their families. It is a much more personal story that has been told of this time before and this makes it much more relatable.

Ryan Gosling stars as Neil Armstrong in First Man. Image Credit: TIFF

The cinematography style used is quite effective at making the film feel like it was filmed back in the 6’s and this gives the film a wonderful aesthetic. The action is quite spectacular and quite intimate, with shots focussing on the minor details like the lines of rivets holding the tiny cockpit together and the creaks and moans the metal makes as the incredible force of the rocket fires them into space. By bringing the focus in close you are able to get some semblance of what this amazing and terrifying experience might have been like. It portrays the risk that these men were taking in a much more visceral way that can be conveyed by the grandiose wide shots of rockets taking off. In this film, you can almost feel the world-shaking as the rockets fire. The moments of greatest action are interspersed with poignant moments of pure silence. The saree is especially well done during the lunar sequences.

This may not be the movie most people expect but it is a wonderful and very human film. The film shows the mental journey that Neil and those around him took as they completed one of the greatest feats of humanity. It is an exploration more than a celebration and is all the better for it.

Starring:Ryan Gosling and Clare Foy
Available on:In cinemas now