Over the holidays I rewatched First Man, a brilliant movie that, for reasons I can’t truly figure out, is being neglected this awards season so far. I do think it’s a movie that almost requires a second viewing because it’s not at all what your brain thinks it’s going to be and it needs a little time to adjust. It’s a story about Neil Armstrong, but it also plays more like a small indie film about grief, only the person dealing with grief also happens to be the first person to ever walk on the moon.
Anyway, I shared my thoughts on Twitter. Twitter, what a weird thing! It’s insane we use it. But, regardless, it’s the kind of tweet I expected to get maybe five likes and maybe a couple of other people replying, “I like it, too.” Instead, it kind of took off, with lots of people commenting and “liking” and retweeting and whatnot.
I mention this because, with all this, came out the people who are STILL convinced that there’s no American flag on the moon in the movie.
This all started out of the Venice Film Festival where this was (somehow) erroneously reported. The problem here is since the movie was only playing at a film festival in Italy, there was no real way to rebuke this report until it played on this side of the world and Americans could see it. But by then it was too late, as the false report really set in to people’s minds, aided and inflamed by right-wing media. And talking to people close to the production, there is a sense that this false report did have an effect on First Man‘s box office in the United States.
But what’s crazy now is people still believe there’s no American flag on the moon in First Man. It’s gone so far as there are actually people who think there are no American flags at all in the movie.
First Man is available on digital download as of Tuesday. I’ll be honest, at first I thought it might be funny to go through First Man and screenshot all the American flags in the film. But here’s the thing: there are so many American flags in First Man this post wound up taking a lot longer than I ever expected and I quickly regretted it. In fact, I kept a running count of how long the American flag actually appears on screen in one way or another in First Man and, by my calculations, if you watch First Man, it’s the equivalent of just staring at an American flag for five minutes and one second. Over five minutes just looking at an American flag! Try doing that! That’s a long time!
Anyway, for the last time, let’s go through all the American flags in First Man.