First Man Is Damien Chazelle’s Career Quieter – MMA Fighting

Over the past decade, Damien Chazelle became one of the first filmmakers of his generation to produce large-scale epics like his latest film Babylonbut also venture into calmer territory with his film first man. Chazelle started with the indie feel of Whiplash: a psychological drama about a student jazz drummer. He then achieved the highest levels of success with La La Land winning Best Director at the Oscars for his tribute to Hollywood musicals. For as adept as he is at crafting stories about individuals in the performing arts who aspire to greatness by any means necessary, Chazelle isn’t exactly a graceful filmmaker.

With the work of Damien Chazelle, audiences can feel the proverbial blood, sweat and tears the young director goes through to execute his themes and inject the viewer with a surge of visceral energy. It’s hard to escape this lack of effortless showmanship given that its main on-screen characters are all people climbing uphill battles and pushing themselves to the absolute limit to become the next great jazz musician. Based on his trailers and marketing, the same kind of chaotic energy seems to be more present than ever in his latest Hollywood Golden Age flick, Babylon. At the other end of the spectrum, however, Chazelle’s film first man does not check the boxes for the usual traits of Chazelle’s style. In fact, if there was ever a time when the Oscar-winning director was subtle in his ideas and reserved in his tone, it was this particular, offbeat biopic about Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) and the Apollo 11 space mission to the Moon.

Ryan Gosling’s performance in ‘First Man’ is shocking

Picture via Universal Pictures

If the protagonists of Damien Chazelle’s previous films are transparent about their motivations, those of Neil Armstrong are quite the opposite. Gosling gives a chilling and reluctant performance of the astronaut who took his first steps on the moon in July 1969. His coldness and indifference are quite shocking in the first quarter, subverting what one would expect from a portrayal of an American icon. This portrayal of Armstrong makes him so tight-lipped about what he thinks and what his motives are. Rather than the usual method of characterizing Chazelle more broadly, audiences are slowly drawn into Armstrong’s mindset. The only line of first man compared to Chazelle’s filmography, it’s an expedition to greatness.

Armstrong indeed pushes the boundaries of early US space technology in order to reach the moon, but where this film differs are the layers unearthed beneath the surface beyond the simple personal satisfaction of success. Neil Armstrong carries with him a trauma, the death of his two-year-old daughter from a brain tumor, which may explain his efforts in space, but what will be accomplished for his own well-being? A conclusion can be formed that in this text, Armstrong, after witnessing the failure of technology to save his child’s life, he must test the limits of technology, and experience only a minute amount of catharsis as a result.

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Reconsider the “first man” with historical context

Picture via Universal Pictures

The search for the appropriate importance of the space mission is a persistent theme of first man. By no means a piece of nationalist propaganda, the film carefully questions the intrinsic value of this dangerous space expedition that was worth a massive financial undertaking and cost many lives. In Whiplash and La La Land, there is perhaps a sense of pretentiousness surrounding the characters in their respective films and their complacency towards the craft of the performing arts. Chazelle’s own point of view can be disputed, but it is clear that his characters carry a particular importance to their passion. The Apollo 11 moon landing is one of the most iconic moments in recent American history, but there’s nothing happy about what Armstrong and his NASA team are venturing into. first man.

Neil’s wife, Janet Armstrong (Claire Foy), shatters the expectations of the archetypal “solidarity woman”. Instead, she is baffled by her husband’s unwavering determination to risk his life for something NASA is not scientifically prepared to participate in. emotional estrangement from their children. The film doesn’t cleverly cast her as the villain, nor the detour that prevents the brilliant astronaut from accomplishing his goal. Due to the film’s deep reflection on the validity of the mission in a historical context, Janet serves as an avatar for the audience.

One of the film’s final scenes shows the astronauts in quarantine after returning from the fateful trip to the moon after all, and a speech by John F. Kennedy plays on television. The speech, colloquially known as 1962’s “We Choose to Go to the Moon,” fits perfectly into the text of the film. This signals that this mission was not wanted due to pure human aspiration. Neil Armstrong and his fellow space travelers were just cogs in the machine for the demands of the US government.

“The First Man’s Depiction of Space Travel Isn’t Glamorous

Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong in front of an explosion in First Man
Picture via Universal Pictures

Space travel put pieces of first man are quite painful. While the drum sequences of Whiplash are extremely stressful, they carry the same exhilarating excitement of a roller coaster. Watching Armstrong fly through space is pure fear. These sequences demonstrate the film’s thesis that the United States was never ready to land on the moon. The spartan, stripped-back design of spaceships is felt through Chazelle’s sultry close-ups and nervous camera movements. Audiences develop a solid understanding of how so many NASA pilots were killed in the process leading up to Apollo 11.

There’s also an overall sense of decay present in the film, which is certainly a far cry from the lively energy of Chazelle’s earlier film, La La Land. Armstrong’s emotional vacancy shatters the stereotypical portrayal of mid-20th century America’s idealistic family structure. It was the first time that Chazelle told a story of workers and mathematicians and not of artists, and the director illustrates this change with his own stylistic evolution. The NASA crew can’t be kissed, and the unglamorous portrayal of their duty might be off-putting to viewers. The scene in which Armstrong has to explain to his children that he may never return from the Apollo 11 mission is hypnotic in many ways, lacking the usual melodramatic beats of an emotionally gripping scene like this. It’s so close to watching someone’s soul, in this case Armstrong, slowly fade into oblivion, that he’s unable to offer his children any assurance that he will survive.

With such a dark film and an ending that features limited personal and American triumph, and instead replaced by lingering feelings of vacancy over the lack of purpose behind the mission, it’s no surprise that first man was a box office disappointment. Contrary to Whiplash and La La Land, this film was excluded from the major recognition of the Oscars. Due to the film’s evolved tone and the narrative ambition of the rest of Chazelle’s filmography, it seemed destined to serve as a launch pad for the director to take a new angle on his career. Although there is a lot of in-depth reading of the text, Chazelle plays her hand without strength, which makes the film more curious to analyze, thus making it effortless in its direction. However, early signs point to his 2022 film, Babylonis a return to its grand, theatrical form, perhaps as a correction for the muted response to its quiet, unassuming left turn from a movie, first man.

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First Man Is Damien Chazelle’s Career Quieter – MMA Fighting