Ryan Gosling stars as Neil Armstrong in the new film First Man, centering on the astronaut's historic Apollo 11 mission. On July 20, 1969, he and Buzz Aldrin became the first men to walk on the moon. Yet, one iconic moment is omitted from the movie: The planting of the American flag.
When asked about the omission, Gosling explained that the producers wanted to focus on human achievement, as opposed to just American achievement.
"I think this was widely regarded in the end as a human achievement [and] that's how we chose to view it," the actor told The Telegraph. "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."
"He was reminding everyone that he was just the tip of the iceberg - and that's not just to be humble, that's also true," Gosling added. "So 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."
Gosling admitted his Canadian heritage gives him a "cognitive bias."
The Telegraph described the planting of the flag in 1969 as "controversial." For the real life astronaut, he said he was just following orders.
"My job was to get the flag there," Armstrong said of the moment. "I was less concerned about whether that was the right artifact to place. I let other, wiser minds than mine make those kinds of decisions."
Regardless of why the American flag was placed on the moon, it was undoubtedly a proud moment for the country. It inspired next generations believe that they could literally reach for the stars. No one who witnessed the moon landing that day will soon forget Armstrong declaring, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."
Despite the criticism from American patriots, First Man is getting rave reviews from those who screened it at the Venice Film Festival this week.
First Man arrives in theaters October 12.