View Full Version : First Man, the film.

22nd Oct 2018, 20:26
Saw First Man the bio pic of Neil Armstrong. A good film although I cannot vouch for its' authenticity. Good acting and action sequences. But, IMHO, the sound effects were overdone and the volume earsplitting at times. I recommend it but take some earplugs.

22nd Oct 2018, 20:57
So you weren’t over the moon about it?

22nd Oct 2018, 21:34
So you weren’t over the moon about it?

An Apolloing assumption !

22nd Oct 2018, 21:49
An Apolloing assumption !

cheesy pie in the sky

22nd Oct 2018, 22:14
I saw it on Saturday and having read James Hansen's authorised biography of Neil Armostrong on which the film was based it was more or less historically accurate.

The sound effects were awful. I have read many books written by astronauts and while they experience high vibration and high G what they don't experience is loud and stupid noises. That drove me crackers! One also had to put aside the ridiculous 'flip front' helmets, the frantic waggling of the joystick in the X-15 and the inaccurate portrayal of facial injuries when Armstrong ejected from the lunar module trainer.

Allowing for this 'artistic licence' I thought the story was well told and worth going to see.

There was also some original footage as well as some original sound recordings which was welcome.

22nd Oct 2018, 22:17
The film lost me in the first few minutes.

Shots of the X-15 flying at high speed through towering cumulus, shaking itself to bits - just movie hype.

All the rocket launches were ridiculous in the amount of vibration.

While I’m sure that there was significant vibration (and pogo-ing) at times during both X-15 and space launches, I think it was overdone and continuous in the movie and I don’t think any X-15 would have been dropped into those kind of clouds.

But yes; the acting was ok and there were some nice personal touches. I didn’t know, for instance, that Armstrong and Elliot See were so close, nor that Armstrong had lost a daughter in infancy.

I wouldn’t really recommend the film to anyone who didn’t already know a fair bit about the space programme, as some of the dialogue was rather difficult to understand what with all the noise and vibration going on.


22nd Oct 2018, 22:40
Saw it, really enjoyed it. A definite cut above much of the usual Hollywood tripe.

Would recommend to others (but was a bit shocked to pay £25 for me and the lad to watch at our local multiplex!)

22nd Oct 2018, 23:00
Read the book and loved it.
Very much looking forward to seeing the film.
From all accounts, the Saturn V shaking on lift off was pretty hideous.
Reminds me of that great quote from one of the astronauts about not being instilled with confidence when you realise you're sitting on top of a massive machine full of rocket fuel, built by companies that could tender the cheapest government contracts...

23rd Oct 2018, 00:34
Indeed, even after the pogo was more or less handled, the shaking of the Saturn V first stage was reportedly horrendous - as was the noise. Reportedly, the noise from those five F-1 engines was so loud it would be fatal to a human even several thousand feet away. However at least in the Apollo capsule the noise dropped dramatically once they were going supersonic (which didn't take long).
I understand once they staged (itself pretty dramatic - going from several G's accel, to weightless, to several G's again in about a second) the S-IVB stage was much smoother.
Haven't seen the film yet so I can't comment on how realistic it is in the movie, but Hollywood is pretty notorious for exaggeration.

23rd Oct 2018, 00:37
A local revue totally slayed it, less than 1 out of 10, reckoned it made Armstrong like like a humourless stuffy nerd, and endless out of focus facial close ups. Plus ( or rather minus,) the sound.

I think (?) I'll give it ago anyway, only $11 (£5) "Senior Loyalty Card" cost at my local multiplex flea pit.

23rd Oct 2018, 02:19
...I think many punters did indeed view him as a humourless stuffy nerd!
The book adds a lot of depth to that perception.
He was right across the detail, an intuitive pilot, humble and with nerves of steel.
The anecdote about Buzz finding him working calmly at his desk after the LEM trainer crash is a case in point; also his calm reaction to the Gemini VIII rolling... approaching one revolution every second.
But he also had a quietly mischievous sense of humour - and never really got over the death of his daughter.
Hidden depths.

james ozzie
23rd Oct 2018, 08:42
That opening sequence in the X15 was incomprehensible even to someone who has an interest. A simple (stock footage) external view of it underslung in its mother ship would have set the scene. Otherwise, you did not know what he was flying or that he was not flying it at first. The ridiculous noise levels drowned out dialogue and radio talk which again left the viewer baffled. The zillion piece welling orchestra also got on my nerves but maybe I am a grouch.

All in all, an opportunity wasted. Maybe I had the wrong expectation, expecting too much of a factual documentary whereas Hollywood has to flog tickets to kids with spikey hair who like car chases and gunfights.

23rd Oct 2018, 08:44
I read the book a year or so ago & saw the film with my wife (!) last weekend - the opening X-15 sequence seemed over-done & the noise level was quite annoying in all the flying sequences. I'm sure it couldn't have been that bad inside and it seemed to "Hollywood-totally-over-dramatising-everything-as-usual" to me which was a shame. Good acting though, I thought Ryan Gosling was pretty convincing compared to the personality portrayed in the book.

B Fraser
23rd Oct 2018, 09:20
As a self confessed Apollo geek, I have read a fair few accounts of riding the Saturn 5. The vibration at launch was so severe that many commanders were scared having their hand anywhere near the abort handle in case they pulled it by accident. One was quoted as saying he would rather die than screw up through pulling it by accident. Another commented that the instruments were useless as it was impossible to read them due to the sideways motions.

As for the X-15 shots, it was Howard Hughes (IIRC) who filmed a dog fight sequence only to discover that the lack of clouds over California made the action rather meaningless. The audience could not appreciate what was happening. The whole circus was moved somewhere else to give the action a reference against towering cumulus.

23rd Oct 2018, 11:16
Some would say that the special effects in the 1969 movie were superior...:E

23rd Oct 2018, 11:43
A local revue totally slayed it, less than 1 out of 10, reckoned it made Armstrong like like a humourless stuffy nerd, and endless out of focus facial close ups. Plus ( or rather minus,) the sound.

I think (?) I'll give it ago anyway, only $11 (£5) "Senior Loyalty Card" cost at my local multiplex flea pit.
Yes there is an unacceptable number of out of focus shots. The IMAX version goes from 16:9 to full height 4:3 for the final minutes whilst they are on the moon. Now we are talking! There is one shot in 4:3, if you have made the emotional investment in the risks of the flight, such as Armstrong taking over control of landing and that there was no hope of rescue had any minor thing gone wrong, that really is quite stunning and moving.
The wobbly scope out of focus mush was a valid style to humanise the man, but I guess most ppruners would prefer pristine steady shots of rockets in all their glory.


Typhoon Surfer
23rd Oct 2018, 18:01
The Right Stuff was a better movie about the same era.

Mac the Knife
23rd Oct 2018, 18:15
It was a long time ago, but I remember well watching the blurred shadows of Armstrong and Aldrin's first steps in on the moon on a B&W TV - my gf and I were staying in a tiny kafenion/boarding house in Piraeus waiting for a ship to the Dodecanese.

Having been a Gemini/Apollo fan for years (and met & talked to Harrison Schmitt), I think that only Norman Mailer's "Of a Fire on the Moon" captures the psychology, the uncertainty, the "newness" of the Apollo Program. Mailer met and talked to Neil Armstrong a couple of times (insofar as it was possible to communicate with to as private a man as Armstrong), but Mailer's hyperacute reporting and his own self-exploratory responses give, I think, the best portrayal of the dynamics of the Apollo 11 crew ever.

Only Mailer, with his Proust-like ability to see into other people and gauge them could have done it.


24th Oct 2018, 13:12
The Right Stuff was a better movie about the same era.

But an awful lot of that was pure fiction.

24th Oct 2018, 13:47
I saw it this afternoon and here's my opinion. Despite taking ear plugs with me, I found they weren't necessary. Perhaps my cinema turned the sound down.

From the opening sequence the film was immersive. You could feel the power and the crudity of these magnificent brute power machines in every action sequence. Sure, the footage was shakey, but it enhanced the emotion of the scene. The whole film was shot with hand held cameras, giving it a "documentary" feel. Even the windows of the Lunar Module had condensed water running in streaks across them and there were several shots which included a reflected image in the lens (I don't know how else to explain or describe the effect) or in a window or in a visor. Gritty and realistic would be the way I would categorise the feeling of this production.

The heart pounding ride of the X15 during the Pasadena Overshoot had no introduction and the impression of the brutal power of the rocket plane may have been overstated, but the crude cinematographic style enhanced the feeling. You didn't even get to see the whole X15 until after it landed! Maybe some would like more detail, but the dramatic impression was powerful.

Seeing the Wild Mastiff in action was unexpected and I thought Gosling played the role to perfection. A humourless man got at least one funny line in the film, but as I understand Neil Armstrong the man was laconic.

After lagging somewhat at the 25 minute mark, the film powers up and the Gemini 8 emergency had me holding my breath, even though you knew the outcome. The LLTV crash was understated and seemed almost like it was included in the film to enhance the drama of the actual landing.

The Moon Landing as the climax of the film was incredible, I have never seen the moonscape look so alien. I don't know how the director did it, but it seemed utterly otherworldly. I thought the surface looked more like wet grey sand than moon dust, but maybe they had to do that to keep down the dust.

Judging by the faces of the other cinemagoers, they had found the movie an emotional and immersive experience. I suspect that the film was not what they expected . They all seemd exhausted by the experience. however I suspect that if you hadn't read at least one book about these events, you would be excused for thinking WTF is going on. I have more respect for the courage of the men who rode those rockets now and I have read plenty of books and seen other videos about the events.

In closing I wouldn't see it again, but you owe it to yourself to see it in the cinema, don't wait for a DVD ( but only after reading the book).

24th Oct 2018, 15:42
The Moon Landing as the climax of the film was incredible, I have never seen the moonscape look so alien. I don't know how the director did it, but it seemed utterly otherworldly. I thought the surface looked more like wet grey sand than moon dust, but maybe they had to do that to keep down the dust.

If they’ve got the moon’s surface looking like wet grey sand then it sounds like the director has done a good job -

”The Moon is essentially grey, no color; looks like plaster of Paris or sort of a grayish beach sand.”

Jim Lovell, Apollo 8, Dec 1968, shortly after entering Lunar Orbit

(Over the missions there were actually varying descriptions of what colour the Moon was close up, a lot of it seemed to depend on whether the astronsuts were looking up sun/down sun/ across etc.

24th Oct 2018, 22:34
One phrase from the book stays with me.
Armstrong described the smell inside the Lunar Lander as they took off their suits and tried to get rid of some of the moon dust, that got everywhere and was very abrasive.
He said there was an odour like iron filings.

25th Oct 2018, 12:14
He said there was an odour like iron filings.
Ozone? . . . . .

25th Oct 2018, 12:18
FWIW over the years there have been umpteen articles and papers written on the subject of that smell..I think even almost 50 years on the jury is still out on the exact cause.



There’s a whole other problem with the dust..it turned out to be highly abrasive and got into every crevice (!) and seal which not only meant the moon walkers on later missions ended up looking like coal miners but it started to cause equipment problems on the later Apollo flights which involved multiple Moonwalks..it’s something those planning for the future and long duration stays on the Lunar surface need to plan and design for.