Film accurately depicts Neil Armstrong’s struggles, achievements
As NASA’s prototype X-15 plane began accelerating toward 4,000 miles per hour, the force jolted the pilot back and forth as the plane arrived into the earth’s atmosphere. A voice from the console gave astronaut Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) the ready to return back to earth.
Throughout the “First Man” film, produced by Universal Pictures in association with DreamWorks and Temple Hill Entertainment, Armstrong works through several difficult and often life-threatening experiences in order to prepare himself to reach the moon. One of these experiences comes as a result of a malfunction in the Gemini ship.
As Armstrong proceeded to fly home, the plane began to float out of earth’s orbit. Every action employed by the pilot came in vain as the altimeter continued to increase. Armstrong was in jeopardy of disappearing into the cosmos.
Finally, Armstrong solved this problem by turning on the plane’s nose thrusters. This pushed the plane back into orbit and the altimeter began to drop. As the plane plummeted toward the ground, Armstrong steered into a bumpy landing in the Mojave desert on April 20, 1962.
In 1966, NASA called upon Armstrong to lead the Gemini VIII mission. The mission aimed to find out how to dock two separate ships while floating in space. They attempted this with the manned Gemini capsule and the spaceship, Agena.
This experiment proved to be a success, however, upon return, the capsule began to spin out of control. While under the assumption that the Agena caused this, Armstrong ordered that they disconnect from the ship. After the discharge, the Gemini started spinning even more rapidly and threatened to continue increasing even more.
After attempting every protocol he thought of, Armstrong moved to his last resort. He turned on the ships nose thrusters, just as he did while flying the X-15 plane. This slows down the spins enough for Armstrong to regain control and fly back home.
Despite these ever reappearing struggles, Armstrong chooses to carry on with NASA’s plans to explore the moon even though the chance remains that he won’t return home. The two biggest hurdles that Armstrong needs to overcome take place before the Apollo 11 mission ever begins.
— First Man (@FirstManMovie) October 17, 2018
In 1962, his two year old daughter, Karen Armstrong, developed a brain tumor that became impossible for doctors to operate on. After spending his last few months with his daughter, she passed away at home.
This loss ultimately changes how Armstrong responds to different situations in the film. Armstrong decides to internalizes his emotions to lessen their impact on him. This causes him to turn off a part of identity to evade those feelings.
Later on in his career as an astronaut, Armstrong once again faces this sort of adversity. However, now his colleague and good friend, Ed White, (Jason Clarke) dies for the cause of space exploration.
In 1967, NASA executed their “locks out” test to rehearse for the launch of the Apollo 1 rocket. The “locks out” test was designed to prepare astronauts for the upcoming launch of the shuttle. While practicing this with three astronauts locked inside, an electrical fire ignited inside the cockpit. Immediately, the flames grew and consumed the astronauts trapped inside, including White.
After suffering two horrific losses like this, Armstrong still chooses to go through with the Apollo 11 mission despite the ever-growing odds that he wouldn’t return home. He makes the choice that the research remains an even greater result of this expedition rather than the possibility of his demise.
During the night before the Apollo 11 launch, Armstrong decided to pack his bag instead of talk with his sons about the possibility that he might not survive the trip. Armstrong knew that if he decided to tell his sons this, it meant he opened himself up to the feeling of pain.
His wife forced him to do it and when he first sat down, the quietness became uncomfortable to even watch. Gradually, his sons asked a couple questions about the mission and Armstrong chose to give them answers that sounded pleasing. After the quick chat, Armstrong sent his children off to bed.
This scene quickly became my least favorite because of the way that Armstrong chose to handle this situation. The opportunity presented itself for Armstrong to conquer fear yet he chose to take the cowardly way out. Armstrong could have handled this differently, by taking the time to give his sons a proper good-bye whether it be forever or temporary.
Throughout the movie, I really enjoyed the way that Gosling used Armstrong’s emotions to further the conflict in the movie. The emotions provided Armstrong with a reason to pursue the mission to the moon and a conflict with his family.
The movie appeals very strongly to anyone who loves learning more about American history. I enjoyed how the movie very accurately portrayed this space mission in addition to adding several thematic elements to make it more appealing to the viewer.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the film and believe that the ticket fee came as a great value.
Kyle Clem can be reached via Twitter @KyleClem5 and via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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