What is the background of Damien Chazelle

"Departure to the Moon": Damien Chazelle portrays Neil Armstrong

With his musical “La La Land”, the young director Damien Chazelle rose to become the new superstar in Hollywood almost two years ago. The film with Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling not only enchanted millions of viewers worldwide. "La La Land" also won numerous awards, including seven Golden Globes and six Oscars. Such a success cannot of course be repeated indefinitely. And yet Chazelle could go on Oscar course again with his new film: "Aufbruch zum Mond" is already one of the hot favorites for the nominations.

For "First Man", as the work is called in the English original, Chazelle worked again with Ryan Gosling. He plays the space pioneer Neil Armstrong, who was the first person to set foot on the moon in July 1969. “Departure to the Moon” tells of the immense effort this project brought with it for him and his team.

But the focus is on Armstrong himself. How he lost his little daughter, threw himself into work and what consequences the risky space program had on his marriage.

Ryan Gosling embodies the astronaut as a taciturn, introverted adventurer who almost stoically faces his challenges and does not evade the dangers. “Walking on the moon is the easy part,” he says of the mission, where so much can go wrong. After all, all the technical finesse must first be developed and optimized, from the drive system to the lunar vehicle.

Cooped up and tense

“Departure to the moon” becomes a fascinating bow to the performance of everyone involved. Director Chazelle virtually takes the audience into the capsule of a rocket, where the astronauts are cooped up and waiting tense for their launch - and then literally lets the screen shake, just as the rockets must have shot through space back then.

The spacemen are tossed wildly to and fro when they take off, and the capsule booms and squeaks as if it were about to explode like a tin can. From today's point of view, this may seem suicidal, but at the same time it impressively shows the dangers and merits.

The second great achievement of the 33-year-old Chazelle is that he shows the person behind the legend. The man who went down in history as the first person on the moon. In close collaboration with Armstrong's family, he portrays a broken family man who, after the death of his daughter, first flees (and flies) to work and then as far away as possible. Not only Gosling is worth seeing here as the main actor, also Claire Foy as his wife. In just a few scenes, the British woman - known from the Netflix series "The Crown" - gives her role emotional depth.

It shows how helpless and at the same time strong this woman in the background was, who, despite worrying about her husband, took care of two more children. “You are a bunch of guys,” she yells at the researchers, “you have nothing under control!” In addition, Chazelle embeds the race to the moon in a social context.

An African-American's lament is enough to illustrate the absurdity of the situation: while the US is stuck in the civil rights movement, blacks are fighting for their most basic rights, and many people suffer from poverty, countless millions of dollars are being spent on the prestigious Cold War project.

US President Donald Trump does not want to see the film

Completely different criticism, however, recently made headlines. Because Chazelle does not inflate the story into a patriotic heroic work, but stages the moon landing as a very personal, quiet moment for Armstrong. That is why he does not drive a US flag into the floor of the moon - but that is exactly what many Americans did not like, including President Donald Trump.

He announced that he did not want to see the film. It's a shame for him. But this portrayal does the film good: It pays tribute to the moon landing as a milestone for people, regardless of nationality.