Damien Chazelle on 'First Man', astronauts, and the Sound of Space

15 Oct 2018

3 mins
Damien Chazelle on 'First Man', astronauts, and the Sound of Space

First Man is a biographical drama about the first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong. In the video above, director Damien Chazelle discusses with our reporter Emilie how important it was to create sound that made it possible for audiences to believe they were in space, how the difficult journey of making his earlier films were a blessing in disguise and imagining how Armstrong must have felt when he finally arrived on the moon.

First Man is a biopic about Neil Armstrong, the NASA astronaut first to plant a boot on the surface of the moon during the 1969 Apollo 11 mission. But instead of focusing just on the eye-popping, nail-biting specifics of getting a rocket into space, it trains its lens on the story of Armstrong as a stoic and private national hero who always stuck to the business at hand. It shows not simply the ticker-tape parades and cheering flight controllers in Houston, but the side of astronaut life that's downright terrifying.

Visit Find Any Film to find screenings of the film near you, and for more interviews, go to our Get Into Film YouTube channel.

First Man is in cinemas across the UK from 12 October 2018.

Emilie with Damien Chazelle
Director Damien Chazella with Into Film reporter Emilie

Emilie reviews First Man

First Man is Damien Chazelle's latest masterpiece depicting the years of tribulation leading up to Neil Armstrong's arrival on the moon, both on a global and domestic scale. Perhaps the best depiction of Chazelle's consistently impressive directorial style within First Man, lies in his ability to balance the insight into Armstrong's personal life and his public cause, each of which was portrayed to have a somewhat detrimental impact on the other. Thus, the film conveys the seemingly, never-ending struggle between the two, in a structurally tight and contained narrative, which continuously augments itself throughout the film. 

Furthermore, the opening sequence of First Man, in an explosion of sound (or sometimes, impressively timed, lack thereof) and visual imagery,directly demands the audience's attention and is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the entire team behind the film. Thus, through slick camera changes and tight, claustrophobic shots, the film, in the first 5 minutes, shows off the undeniably impressive range of skills that DOP Linus Sandgren uses throughout the entirety of the film. 

As always, Justin Hurwitz's role in composing the breathtaking score, is made impossible to overlook. The music dances delicately over the gentler moments of the film, facilitates the more challenging scenes and both captures and enhances the sense of grandeur onscreen throughout. Therefore, making the intentional uses of silence within the film, all the more effective in contrast. This, in itself, is one of many examples of Chazelle's impeccable timing throughout First Man, thus creating a continuous sense of rhythm, particularly foregrounded of course, by the incredible use of sound design. 

Furthermore, the film would not have achieved its overall sense of empathy and compassion, had it not been for the powerful performances of the cast, particularly Ryan Gosling, who plays Neil Armstrong,and Claire Foy in the role of Neil's wife, Janet Armstrong. Gosling acts with a quiet and controlled sense of a profound nature, that lends itself extraordinarily to his character. Thus, also supported by Foy's performance, which, in itself, was both devastatingly heartbreaking and impassioned, created a powerful dynamic between the two, central to the film's narrative. 

First Man -  immersive, magnificent and captivating in a multitude of ways - is one to definitely look out for, and is yet another masterpiece to add to Chazelle's ever expanding and impressive body of work.

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