The first trailer for First Man already showcases just how physically and psychologically demanding a task it was for NASA astronaut Neil Armstrong to make it to the moon. Ryan Gosling plays Armstrong between the years of 1961 and 1969, and the trailer offers glimpses into nearly a decade’s worth of trauma and strife for the young astronaut.
The film, based on the authorized biography, First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong by James R. Hansen, revealed its first trailer on Friday night. Director Damien Chazelle has stated that the film would not only look at Armstrong’s first steps on the moon but his personal life leading up to that moment, with a particular interest in his family life and “difficult marriage.” But the trailer suggests that the physical demands also take a toll on Armstrong in the movie.
Some of Armstrong’s worst injuries happened before he entered orbit. To prepare the astronauts for flight, NASA commissioned the building of two Lunar Landing Research Vehicles (LLRV) that would simulate the moon’s gravity levels. On May 6, 1968, Armstrong’s controls started to degrade and the LLRV began rolling, forcing him to eject. According to the biography, later analysis suggested that if he had ejected half a second later, his parachute would not have opened in time and he would have been killed.
Friday’s trailer hints that this scene will be depicted in the film as well, as suggested by a dirt-covered Gosling getting dragged across a field by his parachute while the vehicle behind him catches fire. It’s just one of the many clips in the trailer where Armstrong looks scathed by either the grueling task of training with NASA or the emotional tumult of leaving one’s family for space.
First Man hits theaters on October 12 and is set to be a massive departure from Chazelle and Gosling’s last collaboration on La La Land. The director and actor focus on the overwhelming concern for Armstrong’s fate during the 1960s, where, as evident by the trailer, few thought he’d survive.
“We need to fail down here so we don’t fail up there,” Gosling says in the trailer with a bruised and bloody face. The First Man trailer highlights plenty of these failures already, reminding us that space travel is not for the faint of heart.