When that “where’s the flag-planting sequence?” complaint about First Man broke at the time of the Telluride Film Festival, my response was that the flag actually appears in the film three or four times, including a shot of the moon flag as well as a brief but unmissable flag-unfurling scene featuring one of Neil Armstrong‘s sons.
Except I was apparently wrong about the count.
According to a 10.12 Huffpost piece by Bill Bradley, the U.S. flag appears no fewer than 18 times in Damian Chazelle‘s film. Presuming this is true, the issue could have been shut down so easily if Universal marketing had simply hired an ad agency to assemble all 18 flag shots and make a patriotic YouTube video out of said footage. Maybe some talking-head quotes about the duty-and-patriotism aspects from Chazelle, Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, a NASA rep, Buzz Aldrin…would’ve been a snap.