The best thing about the movie First Man is that it happened. It’s not fiction. We went to the moon and here’s a movie about it which I think everyone should see to remind themselves of how utterly ludicrous that is as an achievement. As a fan of film I can find quite a few flaws in this movie and maybe rate it at a seven out of ten but as a fan of space I really don’t care, this movie is an eleven. If you liked Interstellar or Gravity or The Martian, If you like rockets or aerospace or astronomy, just go see this movie in the cinema, if you’re anywhere near The BFI IMAX make the extra effort to go see this film there, you will not be disappointed.
This is the first time Damien Chazelle (La La Land/Whiplash) directed a script he didn’t write but he’s right at home with this movie. Damien’s film-making focus is usually the human cost of success, about what it takes to become extraordinary and in this script he gets to tell the story of what is likely humanity’s most extraordinary achievement. In the current zeitgeist it’s so easy to get lost in depression; anti vaxxers, flat earthers, climate change skeptics, everyone everywhere seems to be sliding into backwards and regressive thinking. But here is a movie that offers you a couple hours reprieve from all that bullshit. Sit down, have some popcorn and watch the story of how some clever monkeys made it onto a ball in the sky.
Don’t take that to mean that this isn’t a great film on its own, it absolutely is. The sound design in this movie is fucking amazing, the cinematography is second to none. It does so well to make you feel like you are there inside those tiny little pods being shot through the atmosphere into an endless void with nothing more that a few sheets of aluminium between life and death. That stuff doesn’t matter though.
I’m not writing a movie review here, I’m telling you all to go see this film because it made me feel amazing about the human race. It reminded me just how special we are and that despite all our shit… we are capable of amazing things. There are those among us who have the understanding of math and physics required to predict flight paths, those who can design and construct vehicles that travel through space, those who can provide the leadership required to bring all that work together and those with the bravery and courage to get inside a pod headed to the moon knowing that only luck will bring them back. That raw ability to work wonders, to make magic real, is there within us as a species and its a damn shame that we don’t flex those muscles in big ways any more.
Our progress hasn’t slowed down but its been directed into projects and goals which are simply not as impressive. Our greatest minds are now put to work in companies with the pathetic goal of generating higher profits on a fiscal chart rather than generating miracles to put in history books. Look, I know space programs have sacrificed more lives than necessary, I know that the moon landing only happened because America was trying to prove it had a bigger dick than Russia, I know it’s not all sunshine and rainbows in the past. I would much rather be alive today than at any point in history but what is the coolest thing we’ve done recently? When the next generation asks us about our lives – what event can we point to as inspiration? Gangnam style I guess…
Go see this movie, it made me feel, that’s rare.