By all accounts, “First Man” (the biopic of Neil Armstrong staring Ryan Gosling as the first man to walk on the moon) was a big hit at the Venice Film Festival. The film depicted the quiet courage of Armstrong, an introvert, as well as the human cost of the drive to land the first man on the surface of the moon. However, an iconic moment was excised, airbrushed as it were, from the moon landing sequence. The raising of the American Flag at Tranquility Base is not seen in the film. The omission is quite deliberate and is likely to anger American audiences.

No American Flag

Gosling, a Canadian, claims that the raising of the American Flag was omitted because the moon landing “transcended countries and borders.” (Telegraph).

The message of the film is that the Apollo moon landing should not be seen as a particular example of American greatness. It should be noted that the film’s director, Damien Chazelle, is also Canadian.

The Apollo moon landing was a singular American achievement

The attitude flies in the face of history and indeed common sense. The Apollo moon landing was the culmination of a race to the lunar surface against the Soviet Union. The first man on the moon was seen at the time and is still seen as an American achievement, even though the famous plaque on the side of the lunar module stated that Armstrong and his crewmate Buzz Aldrin came to the moon “in peace for all mankind.” The vast majority of the people who worked on Apollo were American. The immense cost of the Apollo program was borne by the American taxpayers.

The prestige that Apollo garnered was enjoyed by the United States.

Anti-American bias

One cannot help but entertain the suspicion that there exists a darker reason than a high-minded, internationalist attitude for the omission of the American Flag. Hollywood is notoriously far left in its politics. More importantly, the realities of film marketing in the modern world have caused other films to excise any sense of American exceptionalism, the better to appease audiences in countries where the United States is not particularly popular. The sight of an American Flag on the lunar surface might be seen as triggering to moviegoers in China or the Middle East.

Clint Eastwood would have done it differently

At one time “First Man” had Clint Eastwood attached as director. Eastwood, who has not been shy about highlighting American heroes in films such as “American Sniper,” would have likely kept the American Flag raising in his version of the movie. However, it looks like what might have been an iconic film about a hero who was the first man to walk on the moon will be a slap in the face to American audiences.