“Are you sure?” we hear Ryan Gosling, as Neil Armstrong, ask his wife Janet (portrayed by The Crown‘s Claire Foy).
“Yeah,” she replies meekly, grabbing for her husband’s hand. “[It’ll] be an adventure.”
Director Damien Chazelle’s First Man, a film focused on Neil Armstrong’s journey to becoming the first human to set foot on the Moon, doesn’t launch into theaters until October 12. But this weekend, Universal revealed the first trailer—and boy, do Chazelle and company know how to set the stakes.
The idea of sending to humans to the lunar surface somehow feels ho-hum today; even as the US is shifting its near-term goals from Mars to the Moon again. But back in the 1960s, human spaceflight remained an area of simultaneous wonder and worry. The hell of Apollo 1 in particular weighed heavily, still fresh on everyone’s minds from a mere two years earlier.
First Man seems to very much want to recreate this sense. Chazelle is no stranger to showing extreme tension or triumph on the big screen, and it looks like the tale of Armstrong is in good hands. That teetering-on-the-edge feeling the director pumped into his big critical hit, Whiplash, has been appropriately applied to a much higher stakes situation here.
“To go to the moon, that’d be something,” one pal tells Armstrong.
“We’ve chosen a job so difficult, requiring so many technological developments, we’re going to have to start from scratch,” says Kyle Chandler doing his best as NASA’s first astronaut chief, Deke Slayton.
And the lavish and loving vistas the director crafted throughout La La Land will likely create a handful of chills when applied to this historic mission. The trailer alone seems to have such moments. “It’ll go up like a half kiloton a-bomb if it blows,” one onlooker says as we get a slow pan upward on the monolithic Saturn V. Artistic flourishes like Gosling staring to the skies as we see the reflection of another launch in a Mission Control window or the camera taking a first-person perspective as the lunar lander doors slowly open bode well for the fall.
As for Gosling himself, this should be a different kind of showcase for the actor. He has made a career on playing some combination of tough badasses (see Blade Runner or Drive) and efficient-with-their-words charming love interests (The Notebook and La La Land). His portrayal of Armstrong could ultimately be a unique combination of both skill sets, but this trailer at least shows the actor growing comfortable with NASA-ese. When in a moment of genuine fear his son asks if dad will be coming back, the delivery of Armstrong’s retort feels perfect: “There are risks, but we have every intention of coming back.”
Even Ars space guru Eric Berger can’t help but admit some excitement for this one, so expect more First Man coverage as we get closer to the film’s release. For now, viewers can get a good reminder of just how otherworldly the concept of sending a human to step foot on the Moon seemed with this first look. Of course, if you also want to relive the story of July 20, 1969 from those with firsthand perspective in the interim, the below episode of our documentary series Apollo: The Greatest Leap makes an excellent companion to this teaser.
Listing image by Universal
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