First Man Parent Guide
First Man is filled with powerful moments that offer a fitting tribute to those whose lives were changed or lost in the name of scientific progress.
Parent Movie Review
In 1962, Neil Armstrong, (Ryan Gosling,) reads an unusual job posting: NASA, the United States’ fledgling space program, is looking for astronauts. With their counterparts in the Soviet Union making enormous progress, it’s time for the USA to get serious if they intend to beat the Russians to the ultimate goal—landing a man on the moon.
For Neil, the opportunity comes at the perfect time. Shattered after losing a two year old daughter to cancer, this quiet and intensely private man is struggling to maintain emotional calm in front of his concerned wife Janet, (Claire Foy,) and their remaining children. A change of scenery and the challenge of a new workplace offers tempting relief, and Neil gladly accepts an offered position. He moves his family to Cape Canaveral Florida—the heartland of rocket research.
As Janet befriends others in the community, including fellow astronaut Ed White (Jason Clarke) and his wife Pat (Olivia Hamilton), Neil becomes increasingly aware of just how dangerous the life of an astronaut can be. These men—essentially guinea pigs in the testing of new machinery—are subjected to training vehicles that leave them vomiting or unconscious, hours of intense mathematical and engineering classes, and the constant stress of knowing any error could be fatal. Already emotionally distant, Neil’s reluctance to share his experiences with Janet pushes their marriage to its limits. Things reach a breaking point when Neil is selected to lead a team of astronauts on the Apollo 11 mission—if he succeeds, he’ll accomplish one of the most extraordinary feats in human history. If he fails, there’s no possibility of rescue.
We may know how this story’s going to end, but what we seldom think about in a society saturated with touch screens and pocket sized computers, is how it must have felt to not know. The film portrays this uncertainty with sincerity and emotion—we see the terrible price exacted on the astronauts and their families as they risk everything. Some of these moments are disturbing; all are powerful, and they offer a fitting tribute to those whose lives were forever changed (or lost,) in the name of scientific progress.
In many ways, this intimate portrait of Neil Armstrong differs markedly from other films on the topic. Instead of seeing rockets launch in crisp clarity, the filmmakers cram us inside the cockpit with the pilot. We glimpse space and earth spinning in a dizzy kaleidoscope through minuscule windows, watch dials on control panels, hear alarms blare, and feel the claustrophobia. Many scenes feature little dialogue and no soundtrack—instead we’re bombarded with the screeching of overworked metal and the jostling of a spacecraft that might fail at any moment and we’re submerged in the precarious atmosphere of the Apollo program. For this reason alone, the movie’s worth seeing—though it may prove painful if you’re prone to motion sickness or don’t enjoy handheld camera footage.
Neil Armstrong slipped the surly bonds of earth for the final time when he passed away on August 25, 2012. Although we’ll never know exactly what he thought and felt at the moment he made history, First Man offers tender and thought-provoking access to his experience. And it’s worth thinking about. After all, only twelve people have ever set foot on another world, and Neil Armstrong was the first.Directed by Damien Chazelle. Starring Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, and Jason Clarke. Running time: 138 minutes. Theatrical release October 12, 2018. Updated October 19, 2018
Watch the trailer for First Man
Rating & Content Info
Why is First Man rated PG-13? First Man is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for some thematic content involving peril, and brief strong language
Violence: Characters are in tense and perilous situations while preforming test flights and using experimental space vehicles. Explosions and crashes occur: people are injured and killed (some blood is shown). Characters struggle to deal with the deaths of friends, colleagues and children. Reckless driving is depicted. Parents playfully tease their children with threats of punishment. People are seen peacefully protesting.
Sexual Content: A married couple embrace and kiss. Characters vomit from motion sickness. A child vomits after medical treatment.
Profanity: A strong sexual expletive is heard two times, along with a few other mild profanities, scatological slang and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Social drinking is depicted. Several characters are seen smoking cigarettes, especial during tense moments. Some medical procedures are briefly shown.
Page last updated October 19, 2018
First Man Parents' Guide
Neil Armstrong was a private person who did not engage in publicly celebrating his role in the space program. How might the memory of his accomplishment have been altered if he’d become a celebrity?
Learn more about Neil Armstrong and his place in history as the first man on the moon.
Read books about First Man
Looking for more information about Neil Armstrong? Try James R Hansen’s biography, First Man:The life of Neil Armstrong which was used as the basis for this film. Elementary school aged readers can learn about the astronaut by reading I Am Neil Armstrong, written by Brad Meltzer and illustrated by Christpher Eliopoulos.
Did you ever wonder about the logistics of space travel? What goes into planning astronaut’s food? How do they go to the bathroom in space? How are psychological factors assessed? Mary Roach’s non-fiction book, Packing for Mars The Curious Science of Life in the Void answers these and many other questions. This book contains some profanity and a non-graphic discussion of sexuality so it is suitable for older teens.
Neil Armstrong’s space flight was made possible by many people working behind-the-scenes. Be sure to check out Margot Lee Shetterly’s book (and the film) Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race. This book is suitable for teens and Ms. Shetterley has also co-written a children’s version with Laura Freeman.
The Darkest Dark, by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, tells the story of the moon landing and how it helped him overcome his fear of the dark. Suitable for children, especially those interested in space or afraid of the dark or both.
Related home video titles:
Apollo 13 tells the riveting story of a scheduled moon landing gone wrong.
Another story of a mission gone wrong is told in The Martian. This film takes place on Mars where an astronaut, abandoned and believed dead, is actually alive and must keep himself alive until a rescue can be mounted.
Ever wondered about the people who make space travel possible? Watch Hidden Figures to learn about the African-American mathematical geniuses who performed the necessary mathematical calculations.
Is someone in your home dreaming about space? October Sky tells the story of one teen whose rocket dreams come true.