4 Things You Should Know About FIRST MAN and the Actual Events That Happened
By Tess Farrand, Staff Writer
The new biographical movie, FIRST MAN details the experiences of astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first man to step foot on the moon. Directed by LA LA LAND’s Damien Chazelle, Ryan Gosling stars as Neil Armstrong with Claire Foy (THE CROWN) playing his wife Janet Armstrong. FIRST MAN releases mid-October, but the movie is already generating lots of conversation and controversy so we want to tell you some fun things you might not know about the actual events that took place.
- Buzz Aldrin Had Communion on the Moon
After Armstrong and Aldrin safely landed on the moon, Aldrin observed a Christian communion ceremony to honor God for the success of the mission. However, at the time of the moon landing in 1969, Madelyn Murry O’Hare who is infamous for founding the American Atheist organization and magazine was in the heat of a legal battle with NASA because the Apollo 8 crew read from Genesis while orbiting the moon during Christmas of 1968. Aldrin’s decision to conduct communion despite the public controversy is a testament to his faith. According to Aldrin’s interview with Guidepost magazine in 1970, he stated, “I opened the little plastic packages which contained the bread and the wine. I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon, the wine slowly curled and gracefully came up the side of the cup.” He continued, “then I read the Scripture, ‘I am the vine, you are the branches. Whosoever abides in me will bring forth much fruit.’” Aldrin was an active elder in his church in Texas and with the pastor’s blessing, took the communion bread from all the way from his Presbyterian church to the moon!
It’s unclear if this event is portrayed in FIRST MAN, but the 1998 HBO mini-series FROM EARTH TO MOON does. Watch below.
2) FIRST MAN is from Armstrong’s Personal View
Gosling’s character is the protagonist of FIRST MAN. As such, the movie takes the historic moment of landing on the moon and seeks to show audiences what you might not know about the personal struggles of the event and his family life. Armstrong’s family commented on the project, “The filmmakers spent years doing extensive research to get at the man behind the myth, to get at the story behind the story. It’s a movie that gives you unique insight into the Armstrong family and fallen American Heroes like Elliot See and Ed White. It’s a very personal movie about our dad’s journey, seen through his eyes.”
3) Armstrong Didn’t Consider Himself a Hero
“One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Gosling said of Armstrong, “I also think Neil was extremely humble, as were many of these astronauts, and time and time again he deferred the focus from himself to the 400,000 people who made the mission possible.” Along with his team, Armstrong paved the way for all people to endure scientific innovation and exploration. Gosling was honored to portray the real-life hero in the movie.
4) The American Flag Controversy
Movieguide® has yet to see FIRST MAN, but, be sure to check back for our review soon. In the meantime, check out some of our recommendations for other movies that celebrate space innovation here.