Everyone loves space. There is something captivating about the universe and we love watching stories about it. First Man is something different because among movies about space it’s one of a few that’s a true story. On January 22, 2019, First Man will be available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD, and On Demand (it was released on Digital on January 8).
Based on the book First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong by James R. Hansen, First Man is the riveting story behind the first manned mission to the Moon, focusing on Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) and the decade leading to the historic Apollo 11 flight. An intimate account told from Armstrong’s perspective, the film explores the triumphs and the cost- on Armstrong, his family, his colleagues and the nation itself- of one of the most dangerous missions in history. Oscar-winning director Damien Chazelle brings to life a story that has never been told cinematically. Gosling is joined by Claire Foy as Armstrong’s wife, Janet. Supporting cast includes Kyle Chandler, Jason Clarke, Corey Stoll, Pablo Schreiber, Christopher Abbott, and Ciarán Hinds.
Everyone has heard of the Moon Landing but First Man is about so much more than that. It’s even about more than Neil Armstrong. First Man is really a testament to the innovation and achievement of NASA and the space program. The film chronicles Armstrong’s journey to the Moon while simultaneously exploring his personal life and the successes and crushing losses of the Space Race. At times, the story can feel slow because you know the most exciting part is still a long way off. But I found myself pulled in to the unknown intricacies of space travel and the emotional toll of being an astronaut.
Something you notice right away is how First Man brings you into each scene. The movie begins with Gosling’s Armstrong in the cockpit of an X-15 rocket plane. The noise was deafening. It immediately makes you aware of how focused and how intelligent Armstrong (and every pilot and astronaut) must be to concentrate, complete their often dangerous mission, and survive. But that was nothing compared to when Armstrong takes off into space, first with David Scott (Abbott) and then, famously, with Buzz Aldrin (Stoll). It sounded like they were in the middle of a tornado under a piece of sheet metal. We often talk about space travel as something exciting and glorious but it was nothing short of terrifying and wonderous to watch in First Man.
Nothing hit home more than when they do make it to the Moon. I was captivated. The enveloping silence is a character all its own and Gosling gives a tremendous performance without ever saying a word. I’m not ashamed to admit I cried.
This Blu-Ray pack comes with the Blu-ray disc, DVD, and Digital versions of the film as well as a great line up of bonus features. “Shooting the Moon” and “Putting You in the Seat” showed how Chazelle and the production team brought the audience in close and made the danger and wonder of space come alive. The director and Gosling wanted to show the vulnerability of the astronauts, not just their achievements. “It was very much about trying to see what they see, hear what they hear, and feel what they feel,” Chazelle said. The latter feature shows the giant LED wall that was used to allow the production to shoot in-camera and to give the actors something real to act against, rather than a green screen. The innovative technology was incredible to see.
In these features and in “Preparing to Launch,” Gosling and Foy also talk about grounding the Armstrongs and bringing to life the reality of them as people, rather than as legendary or historical figures. Gosling pointed out how strange it was that “someone so well known could still be unknown.” We also get an insight into what drew Chazelle to the project, primarily telling a story that had so many parts to it that are never talked about. “We live in a world where people have walked on the Moon,” Chazelle says. “We forget just how crazy and hard and radical an enterprise it really was.”
Another of the really interesting bonus features was “Recreating the Moon Landing.” The scenes on the Moon looked truly stunning and this feature shows you why. There was a pointed effort to do everything possible to recreate the Moon Landing authentically and practically, not with CGI. The effort absolutely paid off.
Other Bonus Features included are:
- Deleted Scenes
- There is one great sequence of the Armstrong’s house on fire and then another very short glimpse of the Apollo 8 launch
- Giant Leap in One Small Step – A heroic character study, First Man sheds light on all the hard working individuals that got us to the Moon and back.
- Mission Gone Wrong – Watch as Ryan Gosling reenacts a test piloting sequence gone terribly wrong. Go behind the scenes to see how he trained to nail the landing, performing the majority of his own stunts.
- Shooting at NASA – Hear from Ryan Gosling and Director Damien Chazelle on how shooting at NASA brought unparalleled authenticity to First Man.
- Astronaut Training – Go behind the scenes of the three day boot camp each of the actors underwent prior to filming First Man.
- Feature Commentary with Director Damien Chazelle, Screenwriter Josh Singer and Editor Tom Cross
Pick up First Man on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD, and On Demand on January 22, 2019.
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