MIAMI – “One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” These were the words astronaut Neil Armstrong said when he made the historical landing on the moon on July 20, 1969.
A lot of us don’t know that for the first man to walk on the moon, a lot of sacrifices had to be made. It took literally blood and tears.
The movie “First Man” directed by Academy-Award winning director Damien Chazelle, starring Ryan Gosling as Armstrong, tells a story about dreams, ambitions, making history, and above all, sacrifice.
The Cold War was not an easy time, as the United States and Russia were competing against each other to see who would explore space and make the first discoveries. There was an immense pressure on NASA to be the first, with limited time and resources to achieve such a high and almost impossible task as landing on the moon.
In NASA’s project “Gemini,” which included Armstrong, he and others learned for months about all aspects of the mission, physics, and did tests on simulators.
Armstrong was a determined astronaut and gave his best to reach his goal despite great personal loss. His daughter died at only two years of age of leukemia, which crushed him and his family. We can see in the movie that he is constantly at funerals as colleagues from work die on NASA missions.
It was a time of political upheaval, including riots over issues of the day. NASA had its critics. Some asked how many people needed to die so they could achieve the moon landing, and how many families would be shattered because of it?
Armstrong knew the risk. He had a wife and two boys at home, and he was putting everything at risk for this mission. But as he said in the movie, he was determined to do “whatever is necessary” to achieve it.
The Apollo 11 moon landing, led by Armstrong, was a historical event that many of us studied – and some witnessed on television at the time – but it is worthwhile to know the details. The movie will enlighten you about the life of the most talented and determined astronaut at the time, one that achieved the imaginable, at great cost.
What I most liked about the movie was how we don’t know what is going through Armstrong’s head.
He’s a very complex character who is battling with the loss of his daughter and friends while trying to accomplish one of the hardest space missions of the time. His perseverance and determination almost made him emotionless and too focused.
Even with this emotional toll, he was able to land on the moon and make his daughter and all the American people proud.
Maria Luiza Lago is a Correspondent with Youth Journalism International.