Toronto International Film Festival 2018: Part 4
Damien Chazelle’s First Man: Reduced in space—and opera singer Maria Callas, the Afghanistan war, small-town America
8 October 2018
This is the fourth in a series of articles devoted to the recent Toronto International Film Festival (September 6-16). The first article was posted September 28, the second on October 1 and the third on October 4.
Damien Chazelle’s First Man—which opens in the US October 12—focuses on US astronaut Neil Armstrong (1930-2012) and his role in Apollo 11, the first manned mission to the moon.
The movie concentrates on the period from 1961 to the historic moon landing and walk on July 20, 1969. Based on the 2005 biography by James R. Hansen, First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong, Chazelle (Whiplash and La La Land) sets out to explore Armstrong’s personal and professional life.
“This is a story about how hard it was, how much of a risk it was, how dangerous it was to all of those men,” says First Man executive producer Adam Merims. “Neil started out in the Korean War as a pilot and then became a test pilot for the Air Force, then ultimately for NASA. At that time test pilots would die with alarming frequency, so many people in the early part of the story in his life were killed; yet Neil stayed true to his path and achieved what was previously considered unachievable.”
Project Gemini is the training ground for the Apollo moon missions. In 1966, Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) becomes the first American civilian to fly in space, commanding the two-man Gemini 8 mission. During the voyage, the spacecraft begins to tumble out of control, and Armstrong skillfully overcomes the emergency.
Meanwhile, his wife Janet (Claire Foy), tries to maintain,…