In a just-published Hollywood Reporter interview by Stephen Galloway, First Man director Damian Chazelle indicates that his approach to this saga of Neil Armstrong and the first manned landing on the moon was about veering away from the cinematic swoonings of La-La Land. Like Dustin Hoffman‘s decision to play the scuzzy Ratso Rizzo in the wake of his breakout success as the clean-cut Benjamin Braddock, Chazelle wanted to switch gears and not repeat himself.
“Instead of turning to similarly themed films — even ones he admired, such as Apollo 13 and 2001: A Space Odyssey — Chazelle drew inspiration from documentaries like For All Mankind and Moonwalk One, where hard facts and precise details were ‘baked into the archival.’
“‘We watched movies like Battle of Algiers and The French Connection,” says editor Tom Cross. ‘A lot of our conversations had to do with the Maysles and D.A. Pennebaker and Frederick Wiseman [all celebrated documentarians], and those cinema verite documentaries of the 1960s — how they were put together and the ways you could join shots in such a way that it felt emotionally continuous, but actually wasn’t.”