Very dark side of the moon
discomfort, but then it is contrasted by striking periods of silence, such as the mesmerising first moment when Armstrong steps on to the moon.
The moon landing itself is one of the most stunning yet understated sequences in the whole film. Taking up perhaps 10 minutes of screen time in a two-and-a-half-hour film, the landing is a gripping and beautiful thing to watch, but is noticeably brief. And, as has been noted by more conservative quarters in the US, it fails to depict the planting of the American flag.
All of this is quite deliberate. This film is not really about the landing, and it certainly isn’t about any kind of national pride. It is a character study, a deep dive into the shredded emotions of a single human being who was caught up in the USA’s relentless determination to beat the Russians in the space race, and the terrible human cost of the achievement.
When we look at triumphant moments in history, such as the 1969 moon landing, we tend to see the broad strokes, the big picture, the end result. But behind every great achievement are people. Just people. Normal people with private lives that can be overshadowed by the headlines.
First Man is a poignant reminder that even the first man to stand on another world had experienced more suffering in this world than he ever wanted to talk about. Touching, carefully paced, visually stunning, simply beautiful.
(M) is now showing at Village Cinemas, the State Cinema and Cmax. Rating: