Over the weekend, we were graced with the initial trailer for First Man, the latest collaboration between the La La Land duo of Ryan Gosling and director Damien Chazelle. This biographical account of astronaut Neil Armstrong, known the world over as the first human to ever set foot on the moon, is sure to generate awards buzz when it lands this October. We've broken down the trailer to bring you the highlights.
1. Early days
Chazelle's previous two Oscar-winning films, Whiplash and La La Land, explore what it means to be driven by a passion (drumming in the former, acting and jazz in the latter). First Man easily occupies the same bracket, taking us back to the early days of Neil Armstrong's mission, beginning with the superimposition of a rocket over his face, signalling his desire to travel to the moon. Gosling delivered acting fireworks as aspiring jazz musician Sebastian under Chazelle's direction in La La Land, and there's no reason to expect anything less here.
2. Family life
If you recall from Ron Howard's gripping 1995 drama Apollo 13, a lot of the tension stemmed from the earthbound domestic scenes, in which the family of astronaut Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks) are watching his ill-fated space mission unfold. (Lovell appears in First Man, as played by Den of Thieves' Pablo Schreiber.) Likewise, First Man has its feet planted just as much on the ground as it does on the surface of the moon. In this case, The Crown's Claire Foy plays Armstrong's straight-talking wife Janet ("You're just a bunch of boys", she barks at the NASA experts), bringing the effortless sense of authority from both the Netflix series and also the recent Steven Soderbergh thriller, Unsane.
3. No time for failure
We've become so preoccupied with the iconography of Armstrong walking on the Moon's surface, not to mention the oft-quoted "one small step for a man" declaration, it's surprising to note very few feature films have tackled how he got there in the first place. Chazelle's movie promises historical authenticity and tension, as Armstrong's early NASA attempts end in failure and injury, which only strengthens his resolve. As a filmmaker, Chazelle has an excellent eye for a set-piece, whether it's Miles Teller's phenomenal drumming showdown in Whiplash or the sensational 'Another Day of Sun' opening from La La Land, so we have every right to expect bold filmmaking on a grand scale.
The trailer teases the first tantalising moments where Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin (Ant-Man's Corey Stoll) first enter Apollo 11 to set off on their interstellar voyage. But it would mean nothing without a reminder of what Armstrong is potentially sacrificing. His son, Rick (Luke Winters), enquires as to whether he will come back – and even though we of course know the outcome, it serves as a potent reminder of how dangerous this mission was.
5. "One small step..."
"Space travel changes your perception", says Armstrong as we see his lunar module approaching the Moon. Who could possibly resist the cinematic depiction of one of the most famous pieces of footage of all time? After all, we're used to the scratchy, profile footage of Armstrong's venture on to the surface. Just imagine how dramatic and visually bold it will be in the hands of a director like Damien Chazelle.