Where Is the American Flag in “First Man”?

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This past weekend, 200 of my neighbors sat in a local theater watching every detail of First Man on opening night. We were particularly observant of the film because several scenes were filmed in our neighborhood. One thing I was surprised to see were numerous flags throughout the movie. Considering the movie follows the life of the great American achievement of the first moon landing from the perspective of Neil Armstrong, this should not have been a surprise.

Following some screenings of First Man at international film festivals, people across America, including our President Donald Trump, were choosing to ban the movie. The reason for the ban was due to a report that the movie eliminated the historical planting of the American flag on the moon’s surface. By the time people began talking about the movie locally, I read accusations and rumors that there were very few flags at all in the movie, and they were not included on the astronaut uniforms.

After watching the movie, I left feeling nothing but patriotism and the realization of the sacrifices that were made to make it to the moon. Lives were lost in space travel, and an enormous amount of American tax dollars were spent to make the achievement. In addition, flags were everywhere. They were outside of homes, on the rockets and on the astronaut uniforms! Most surprising of all, the flag that Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong planted on the moon is seen a minimum of two times as Neil scanned the horizon of the moon. The actual planting of the flag was not highlighted, but viewers are clearly reminded that it occurred.

Sitting in the theater, I understood some of the director’s comments to why the flag was not highlighted. The moments on the moon, were viewed from Neil’s feelings, the awe at making the landing and remembering all the sacrifices that it took to get there. It was not a moment by moment re-creation of the moon landing, and that fact did not take away from the importance of the American achievement. It portrayed the emotion and the terror of the unknown all at the same time.

For me, the movie clearly portrayed the importance of the moon landing made by Americans. Being a child of the 1980s, the moon landing was something I read about in history books and saw mimicked on MTV logos. I very much enjoyed seeing the portrayal of how the world was in awe of America achieving the moon landing first in “the Great Space Race” and the reminder of the painful sacrifices that helped make history.


Writer Bio: Summer Bolte

I spend most of my time and days with my three kids, husband and dog. My kids frequently play near me as I garden, cook, DIY and volunteer. My most unusual paying job has to be feeding fruit flies in a research lab, and my most fulfilling job was being an oncology nurse for seven years.  

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