Very dark side of the moon

Mercury (Hobart) - - ENTERTAINMENT -

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:

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