WARNING: There are MAJOR SPOILERS ahead for First Man.
So if you’re yet to see Damien Chazelle’s Oscar contender, please bookmark this article, head to your local IMAX cinema to watch it all unfold, and then read what editor Tom Cross had to say about just how true it is.
There’s always a fine battle between just how truthful a film should be and making it as dramatic and cinematic as possible so that audiences can get completely wrapped up in.
Because of the meticulous detail of its sets, NASA modules and its recreation of the 1960s, as well as the visceral impact of its space sequences, viewers don’t quite question “First Man’s” authenticity as much as they might do other biopics.
However, there is one moment in the film that most moviegoers will immediately question the legitimacy of. Because when Neil Armstrong is on the lunar surface he goes to a crater and drops his daughter Karen’s bracelet into it. Karen died 7 years earlier at the age of 2 on January 28, 1962.
During my recent discussion with “First Man” editor Tom Cross he admitted that the entire raison d’être of the film was to make a biopic that was as “intimate and personal as possible,” adding that they wanted to “focus on moments like what Neil was doing privately at the crater. Where he was off-coms for a certain amount of time and he was just there alone.”
After he mentioned this sequence I asked just how true the film’s depiction of what Neil Armstrong did on the moon was, and whether or not the astronaut actually took Karen’s bracelet with him.
“We did talk about what may or may not have happened and what we actually think he did. We had Jim Hansen’s book. I know that Damien and Josh Singer consulted with the Armstrong family.”
“But no-one really knows exactly what Neil did or brought to the moon. He was very private about that. He did bring personal items in his PPK to the moon. We don’t know what they were. And Neil Armstrong did not disclose what they were.”
“So there is a lot of stuff we didn’t know. Our hope was to dramatize something and also to suggest things that he might have been thinking and feeling. We thought that would make for really emotional storytelling and cinema.”
“We played a lot with those private moments. That was really fun to do. The flashbacks were not in the script. That is something we played around a lot with in the editing. And also where they were on the moon. Where these flashbacks fell.”
“We played around a lot with sound and Justin Hurwitz’s music, where it should be and where we should go silent. So our goal for that was to really expand upon what we did with the Gemini 8 scenes.”
“In other words make it subjective and put you in the point of view. So you feel like it is your hands going down the rungs of the ladder as you step on the moon.”
“We definitely wanted that. We also wanted to really try to make it personal and intimate so it felt like you were privileged to share that intimate moment with Neil Armstrong on the moon.”
“First Man” is now in cinemas.