The Corner


Neil Armstrong Movie Leaves Out the American Flag Planting

Rewriting history to own the patriots

Touted as one of the year’s leading Oscar contenders, First Man, from Whiplash and La La Land director Damien Chazelle, is touted as an intense drama about Neil Armstrong and Apollo 11. Critics have praised it for avoiding patriotism and flag-waving, because Trump. From The Hollywood Reporter: “Most notable is the film’s refusal to engage in the expected jingoistic self-celebration that such a milestone would seem to demand. At a time when the toxic political climate has cheapened that kind of nationalistic fervor, turning it into empty rhetoric…[that] is to be savored.” This turns out to mean that the movie omits the moment when Armstrong planted the American flag on the moon. Says the Canadian Ryan Gosling, who plays Armstrong, “I don’t think that Neil viewed himself as an American hero. From my interviews with his family and people that knew him, it was quite the opposite. And we wanted the film to reflect Neil.”

At the Venice Film Festival, where First Man debuted ahead of its U.S. release on October 12, Gosling said the moon landing “transcended countries and borders,” adding, “I think this was widely regarded in the end as a human achievement [and] that’s how we chose to view it. 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.”

Got that? It’s more faithful to Neil Armstrong, who died in 2012, to leave out the thrilling moment when he placed the flag on the lunar surface. This is daft. Congress discussed placing a U.N. flag on the moon instead but ultimately decided that an American project should be celebrated with an American symbol.

SPACE EXPLORATION:  The American flag planted by Neil Armstrong in 1969.

The first man on the moon said at the time, “My job was to get the flag there. I was less concerned about whether that was the right artefact to place. I let other, wiser minds than mine make those kinds of decisions.”

I’m reminded of how one New York Times reviewer took a sour view of the Winston Churchill film Darkest Hour because of its “great man fetish” and turned to banging the anti-Trump gong: it would have been preferable to “invite the audience to think about the difficulties of democratic governance at a time of peril” because the movie “feels, in present circumstances, less nostalgic than downright reactionary.”

History sure can be inconvenient when patriotism makes you queasy.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Hillary Ruins the Plan

Editor’s note: Andrew C. McCarthy’s new book is Ball of Collusion: The Plot to Rig an Election and Destroy a Presidency. This is the first in a series of excerpts.  There really was a collusion plot. It really did target our election system. It absolutely sought to usurp our capacity for ... Read More

A Brief History of Election Meddling

Editor’s note: Andrew C. McCarthy’s new book is Ball of Collusion: The Plot to Rig an Election and Destroy a Presidency. This is the second in a series of excerpts. ‘The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back.” Thus spoke President Barack Obama just a couple of weeks before ... Read More

The End of Hong Kong as We Know It

The protests in Hong Kong have been going on for more than four months now, and no matter how the current crisis concludes in the coming days or weeks, it will mark the end of Hong Kong as we know it. The protests started in response to an extradition bill that was proposed by the city’s Beijing-backed ... Read More

Another Pop-Culture Christian Loses His Faith

It’s happened again. For the second time in three weeks, a prominent (at least in Evangelical circles) Christian has renounced his faith. In July, it was Josh Harris, a pastor and author of the mega-best-selling purity-culture book I Kissed Dating Goodbye. This month, it’s Hillsong United songwriter and ... Read More

Max Boot’s Dishonesty

Before yesterday, my primary criticism of the Washington Post’s Max Boot was political in nature. As I wrote in a recent book review, I found it regrettable that Boot’s opposition to the president had not prevented him from “succumbing reactively to Trump’s cult of personality, or from making Trump the ... Read More