Damien Chazelle, Ryan Gosling, space. What more could you want? But I get the impression that everyone’s favorite Canadian isn’t going to have much time to break into song as Neil Armstrong. After a sneak-peek of images from Universal, we now have a fully-fledged trailer for Damien Chazelle’s latest feature, First Man, and dramatic doesn’t cover it.
Chazelle is no stranger to building suspense. Whiplash was about as intense as moviegoing gets (maybe just behind Black Swan), so First Man should prove not only that he can pull tension out the bag, but also that he is incredibly versatile as a director. A long way from the graduate days of Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench, Chazelle has coursed through his La La Land run and now seeks to offer something wholly different. After all, he had to get back at Moonlight somehow – why not go one better and actually fly to the moon?
The trailer gives us a lot to go on. The ethical dilemmas of family vs space travel posed by Chris Nolan in Interstellar seem to manifest themselves again, but this time there is more of a focus on the risks associated with the first manned flight to the moon. It’s easy to forget just how groundbreaking it was in 1969 to send a highly volatile mass of technology 384,400km off the planet – something which we take for granted now in a world of handheld drones and a new space movie released every few years.
There also seems to be something of the lone-wolf mentality Gosling adopted in Blade Runner 2049, as his Armstrong struggles with personal sacrifice and compromise in order to fulfill a groundbreaking mission. If his quietly powerful performance against The Crown’s Claire Foy (as a strong-willed Janet Armstrong) is anything to go on, it seems as if we are in for a big helping of internal conflict against Apollo-13-level odds.
It’s also worth noting that the marketing seems quite similar to Gravity, with a slick white font, and that the minimalist poster design echoes The Martian. The post-production team has also wisely opted for 16mm-like footage, giving the film a grainy, nostalgic feel, and given that it’s based on Neil Armstrong’s biography by James R. Hansen, the film will be milking 60s nostalgia for all it’s worth.
And once again, Justin Hurwitz will be returning to compose the score. He and Chazelle go all the way back to Harvard, and this will be the fourth time that the duo has collaborated on a film and its music. It’s an integral part of the marketing that rivals any Hans Zimmer score, and will certainly have an effect on how the film is received.
Alongside Gosling and Foy, the cast includes Pablo Schreiber as Jim Lovell and Kyle Chandler as Deke Slayton. With writer Josh Singer (The Post, Spotlight, The West Wing) at the helm and produced by Temple Hill Entertainment, we are in for what Chazelle has described as an “immersive journey” in 3D and IMAX. First Man will be released in theaters on October 12, 2018.