Neil Armstrong’s Sons Respond To Flag Planting Controversy

First Man Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong

Damien Chazelle's First Man recently screened for audiences and earned solid reviews, but the film has not debuted without some early controversy. Specifically, some have taken issue with the fact that the movie doesn't include the moment in which Neil Armstrong (played by Drive actor Ryan Gosling in the film) planted an American flag on the surface of the moon. In the face of accusations that the film is "anti-American," Armstrong's sons Rick and Mark have issued a statement explaining that the movie is about the lesser-known elements of their father's life, and therefore doesn't include something so iconic. The statement says:

We've read a number of comments about the film today and specifically about the absence of the flag planting scene, made largely by people who haven't seen the movie. As we've seen it multiple times, we thought maybe we should weigh in. This is a film that focuses on what you don't know about Neil Armstrong. It's a film that focuses on things you didn't see or may not remember about Neil's journey to the moon. 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.

This complaint popped up online a few days ago when early screenings of First Man revealed that the American flag does not factor into the moonwalk scene of the movie. Many who heard about this (most of whom have not actually seen the movie) then took to the internet to complain about the omission, arguing on the grounds that it devalues Neil Armstrong's status as an American hero. However, Mark and Rick Armstrong want to put that notion to rest, explaining that their father didn't see himself as an American hero in the first place.

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With all of that said, the short-winded version of the story is that Neil Armstrong's sons simply want folks to check out the movie before making these "anti-American" assumptions for themselves. The sons continued in their statement released by EW and said:

In short, we do not feel this movie is anti-American in the slightest. Quite the opposite. But don't take our word for it. We'd encourage everyone to go see this remarkable film and see for themselves

Audiences will get to see what Damien Chazelle and Ryan Gosling have done with the life of Neil Armstrong later this year when First Man debuts on October 12. Watch out for the film when it premieres, and head over to our movie premiere guide to read up on all of the other films that are set to premiere on the big screen in 2018!

Conner Schwerdtfeger

Originally from Connecticut, Conner grew up in San Diego and graduated from Chapman University in 2014. He now lives in Los Angeles working in and around the entertainment industry and can mostly be found binging horror movies and chugging coffee.