In July 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first American in history to land on the moon during a historic mission. Many Boomers will recall watching the incredible moment Armstrong planted the American flag in the ground, marking one of the greatest achievements for both America and mankind.
Now, a new movie focusing on the 1969 mission has debuted to rave reviews at the Venice Film Festival. However, one moment stood out for Buzz Aldrin for all the wrong reasons, as the film failed to include the iconic flag-planting moment.
Although images of the American flag on the moon beamed on television networks around the world and on the front pages of newspapers at the time, new film First Man – which will be released in both American and Australian cinemas next month – won’t be including the footage.
The decision by director Damien Chazelle has been criticised by many, including 88-year-old Aldrin, who walked on the moon after Armstrong. Taking to Twitter, Aldrin seemingly hit out at the film’s decision, sharing two images of the original moon landing complete with the American flag.
In addition, Aldrin shared a series of hashtags including “proud to be American”, “freedom”, “one nation”, “honor” and “Apollo 11”.
His anger was echoed by US Senator Marco Rubio, who said the decision was “total lunacy”.
“This is total lunacy. And a disservice at a time when our people need reminders of what we can achieve when we work together,” he said. “The American people paid for that mission, on rockets built by Americans, with American technology & carrying American astronauts. It wasn’t a UN mission.”
This is total lunacy. And a disservice at a time when our people need reminders of what we can achieve when we work together. The American people paid for that mission,on rockets built by Americans,with American technology & carrying American astronauts. It wasn’t a UN mission. https://t.co/eGwBq7hj8C
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) August 31, 2018
Others have taken to social media to share their thoughts.
One person wrote: “I AM TAKING THE FLAG TO THE THEATRE. Yes, on my arm or in the t-shirt, on my baseball cap, or in any way I can express my distaste for that offensive omission.”
Another said: “Thank you Buzz Aldrin, a real American hero, patriot & pioneer. It was an American man, with an American boot, flying an American spacecraft, using American technology, paid for by Americans who planted the American Flag on the Moon. Won’t see #FirstManMovie.”
The film’s star, Canadian-born actor Ryan Gosling, defended the director’s choice not to include the flag scene. According to the NY Post, he told reporters at the Venice Film Festival the decision was deliberate because the moon landing “transcended countries and borders”.
“I think this was widely regarded in the end as a human achievement [and] that’s how we chose to view it,” Gosling said. “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.”
Meanwhile, Armstrong’s sons Rick and Mark released a statement last week, saying the film was far from anti-American, while the film’s director said the flag-planting was one of several moments of Apollo 11 that weren’t included in the movie, but insisted it wasn’t a political statement.