Neil Armstrong’s sons defend decision to omit iconic flag planting from First Man

Neil Armstrong’s sons have planted their flag on the opposite side of those criticizing the team behind First Man for their perceived lack of patriotism.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio has been among those to call out director Damien Chazelle’s Armstrong biopic for omitting the astronaut’s iconic planting of the U.S. flag upon his arrival on the moon. Rubio called it “total lunacy” and a “disservice at a time when our people need reminders of what we can achieve when we work together.”

Star Ryan Gosling previously defended the decision, saying they chose to view it as a “human achievement.” And now, in a joint statement, Armstrong’s sons Rick and Mark, as well as First Man author James R. Hansen, are showing their support for the film’s handling of the moon landing. Read their full message below:

“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.”

First Man, which opens wide on Oct. 12, received rave reviews upon its Wednesday world premiere at the Venice International Film Festival. 

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