Planting The American Flag On The Moon

Bob Zimmerman isn’t impressed with the Armstrong movie.

[Update late evening, before I drive up to West Palm Beach to pick up Patricia]

Some (sadly) hilarious thoughts and links from Jim Treacher.

[Sunday update]

OK, I see that Bob Zimmerman has had second thoughts.

I’m going to reserve judgment until I see the film. I think that the proximate cause of the uproar wasn’t the decision to leave out the flag planting, but the Canadian actor’s idiotic explanation of it. As I note in comments, the movie is a biopick of Neil Armstrong, not a history of Apollo, and his great achievement was not in planting a flag on the moon, but in simply being present on its surface.

42 thoughts on “Planting The American Flag On The Moon”

  1. I didn’t know what to make of this hullabaloo. If I was making a movie like this; I think I would probably end it with the first step, or at least let the climax end on that note and then maybe jump ahead to Armstrong’s later years. But I don’t know much about this movie, so I appreciate reading what Bob Zimmerman wrote.

    Ryan Gosling is not a box office draw. He’s considered a good actor and supposedly handsome, but his movies don’t perform well. Considering what Zimmerman highlighted of Gosling’s quote; I see a problem. I’m willing to accept that Neil Armstrong thought of his first steps as more than just an American thing and something he was doing “for all mankind” or at least the 400,000 people of NASA as Armstrong stated in an interview. However, I don’t think Neil Armstrong ever thought of himself “as anything but an American hero”. Armstrong was fairly humble, and I think wanted to share his accomplishment with all, rather than claim it for himself, but in all of it, he was also an American hero.

    1. Armstrong may have not considered himself an American hero, but he most definitely considered himself an American.

  2. Yeah, even Canadian Shatner has the good taste not to comment on U.S. politics.

    No way in hell will I go see this movie. I’ll wait till it’s free on cable.

  3. And another thing. Was this a Russian, European, Chinese or African accomplishment? Nobody has done it but us, and nobody but us are close to being able to replicate it, or better yet return to stay.

  4. Armstrong and Aldrin also got a phone call from President Nixon while on the moon. Is the movie going to change it to the UN Secretary General?

  5. I’ll wait to see the movie. Ryan Gosling is a good actor, and Damien Chazelle is a good director. Neil Armstrong is an interesting man, and they’re attacking the story in a way it hasn’t been done before. I’m not that worried about whether they fly the flag or not.

    Nothing changes the fact that the only footprints and flags on the moon are American.

    1. That’s undoubtedly a factor. Like many multinational corporations, Hollywood no longer regards themselves as American, but as “citizens of the world”.

  6. It’s a Hollywood movie, of course it has omissions, if it doesn’t contain outright lies like so many other Hollywood movies it’ll be comparatively faultless.

    Zimmerman gets very excited over little things.

    1. if it doesn’t contain outright lies like so many other Hollywood movies it’ll be comparatively faultless.

      As already noted, we have one outright lie already in the omission of the planting of the flag. While it wasn’t significant to the mission’s goals, it was a very visible thing to the public watching from Earth. In other words, we’re skipping an important shared experience by anyone who viewed news coverage of the landing on TV.

      The flag planting was one of the first things done, planted within an hour of the first step on the Moon (though several other things had been deployed ahead of it).

      1. You and I obviously use different definitions of “outright”.

        As David Scott has said, First Man is a movie about Neil Armstrong’s life, not about planting the flag.
        It’s sad so many hyper-partisan Americans want to turn what is tribute to Armstrong’s life and achievements into a political football.

        1. It was Gosling’s statement that was political. If there is an error in communication, it starts with him and not with the audience.

    2. Andrew, in the US, when you go under oath in court; you are commanded “to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”. Omission of truth is considered outright lying here. Tell us what other lies you get away with in New Zealand?

      1. I agree with your earlier comment in which you advocated the lie by omission: “I didn’t know what to make of this hullabaloo. If I was making a movie like this; I think I would probably end it with the first step, or at least let the climax end on that note and then maybe jump ahead to Armstrong’s later years.”

        1. That’s interesting, because you are agreeing to my initial opinion, which I admitted was based on ignorance. Do you routinely refuse to change your position when you learn new information?

          1. Mr. Zimmerman, whom I’ve long considered stubborn, surprised me this morning by changing his position to one closer to mine (and your original position) as a result of new information. Mr. Zimmerman now thinks his original criticism now possibly unfair, he thinks that perhaps he should withhold judgment until he’s actually seen the movie. You see Leland, the only new information confirms my position (and your original position). So now that you can pop over to Behind The Black and see some new information you too, like Mr Zimmerman, can now change your position as a result of real live new information.

          2. The Director says he shows the flag. That’s good. And good for you and Zimmerman.

            By the way, I never advocated a lie by omission. This is important. It’s one thing to miss detail. Zimmerman’s new information is that the flag is included, so says the Director. It is another to intentionally obfuscate. Gosling still claimed Neil Armstrong is “anything but an American hero”. I can’t imagine it is a good portrayal when the lead Actor doesn’t understand his subject.

            There is only so many times it can be pointed out that Gosling is not a box office draw. Perhaps they should have hired an American for the role.

          3. I think that the issue wasn’t so much the decision to not show the flag planting, as the Canadian’s stepping-on-his-own-johnson attempt to explain the decision. The point was simply that the movie was about Armstrong, not Apollo 11, and his achievement was walking on the moon, not planting a flag on it.

          4. “Gosling still claimed Neil Armstrong is “anything but an American hero” ”

            Now you are lying.

            Gosling said “I don’t think that Neil viewed himself as an American hero,” That take on Armstrong, that he didn’t see himself as a hero, is ubiquitous when people talk about the first man on the Moon.

  7. I don’t think that Neil viewed himself as an American hero,” Gosling said.

    Armstrong might not have thought of himself as a hero but when did he ever say he didn’t think of himself as an American? Many heroes are often modest but what makes them heroes isn’t their views of themselves but how other people feel about them.

    It isn’t surprising that non-Americans would also view Armstrong as a hero and there is nothing wrong with that. Many Americans have a lot of regard for Yuri Gagarin too but has anyone tried to strip his country from him?

    Here it appears they are making an effort to separate that very decidedly American culture, which made the lunar landing possible, from that achievement.

    From what we know so far, this is on point and very much part of popular culture which is anti-American, anti-capitalist, and anti-Western Civilization.

    1. And even in death, he was being treated as an uber patriot. I notice that the picture shows the United States flag flying on the cruiser’s stern while the remains are being spread.

  8. Am I the only one bemused by the human tendency to tell fictional stories about recent people and events? It’s not Hollywood’s fault; people have always done it.

    Also, why would many millions of people read and/or watch Game of Thrones while only a few thousand would ever read a history of the real Wars of the Roses?

      1. Here is the Armstrong-Hanson statement:

        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 story is human and it is universal. Of course, it celebrates an America achievement. It also celebrates an achievement “for all mankind,” as it says on the plaque Neil and Buzz left on the moon. It is a story about an ordinary man who makes profound sacrifices and suffers through intense loss in order to achieve the impossible.

        Although Neil didn’t see himself that way, he was an American hero. He was also an engineer and a pilot, a father and a friend, a man who suffered privately through great tragedies with incredible grace. This is why, though there are numerous shots of the American flag on the moon, the filmmakers chose to focus on Neil looking back at the earth, his walk to Little West Crater, his unique, personal experience of completing this journey, a journey that has seen so many incredible highs and devastating lows.

        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.

  9. I ain’t paying to see it and I’m an Australian, not an American. Hollywood bs.
    I’ll get to see it later (maybe much later and then I may not be interested) but I’m not paying. Ryan Gosling isn’t a favorite actor anyway.
    The director should have taken a leaf out of “The Right Stuff” movie and use not well known actors. The Right Stuff movie should be taken as allegory not history but was in keeping with the spirit of the times.

    1. My wife and I lasted 5 minutes watching “Gravity” on DVD. Then switched off the TV.
      Miserable doesn’t begin to cover it.

  10. Waiting for his statue at Purdue to be torn down. After all, he was a white, male, Christian cis patriarch who joined the Navy prior to Truman signing the EO on desegregation, therefore he must also have been a testosterone-driven, agressive, militaristic segregationist, right?

    1. Who joins the Navy after WWII? It is not like we were fighting fascism anymore.

      And really, being less sarcastic; that Armstrong did join when he did says a lot about his patriotism.

  11. I haven’t changed my initial reaction. Planting the American flag on the moon was Armstrong’s mission, and omitting the accomplishment of his mission from the film belies the idea that this was all about Armstrong’s persona. He definitely was a man who respected his mission, as far as I know.

    However, I don’t really know how far that was. I found the book First Man so hideously boring that I can’t even find the spine on the vast library shelves of mine and the lovely KfK’s (who built them). I couldn’t finish it despite repeated attempts. Has anyone on this comment thread read that soporific tome?

    1. I will confess that I read much of it, but never finished it. But I was actually more interested in the pre-Apollo stuff than the mission itself, which I was fairly familiar with.

  12. I assume it was essentially done to placate the Chinese, which is such a huge market for films now. But, the subversive message that the first man on the Moon was an American cannot fail to come through.

    If the flag is seen in other shots, as seems to be the case, I am OK with it. I hope the film will reinforce the ideal that great things can be achieved through hard work and dedication in the face of adversity and tragedy, and this formula works whether you are white, black, brown, yellow, or chartreuse.

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