The astronaut Buzz Aldrin has criticised a Hollywood blockbuster about the Moon landing in a controversy over the film being “un-American”.
First Man — starring Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong — came under fire from conservatives for failing to show the iconic moment when the US flag was planted, by Armstrong and Aldrin, on the lunar surface in 1969.
The Daily Telegraph understands that Aldrin was not even invited to view the film in advance.
In his first response to the row Aldrin, 88, posted on Twitter a still from footage of himself and Armstrong planting the US flag. He also published a photograph of himself standing next to the flag on the Moon. The picture was taken by Armstrong.
Aldrin accompanied the images with captions including “Proud to be an American”, “Freedom” and “One Nation”. He also posted a photograph of himself in a T-shirt depicting an astronaut planting a US flag on Mars.
His apparent criticism of the $70 million (Dh257 million) Hollywood project, which looks set to be a contender in the Oscars, was echoed by another legend of US air and space achievement.
Chuck Yeager, 95, the first test pilot to break the sound barrier, said: “That’s not the Neil Armstrong I knew.”
Yeager was responding on Twitter to a suggestion that Armstrong was portrayed as a “liberal progressive, anti-Trump (in spirit) non-flag waver”.
Gosling, a Canadian, ignited the controversy at last week’s Venice Film Festival, suggesting that Armstrong, who died aged 82 in 2012, had not regarded himself as an “American hero” and that his accomplishment “transcended countries and borders”.
Marco Rubio, the Republican senator, called that “total lunacy” adding: “The American people paid for that mission, on rockets built by Americans, with American technology and carrying American astronauts. It wasn’t a UN mission.”
Ted Cruz, his fellow Republican senator, called the film “consistent with Leftists’ disrespecting the flag and denying American exceptionalism”.
Pete Hegseth, a Fox News host, called Gosling an “idiot” and said it was “an American achievement bar none”.
However, Rick and Mark Armstrong, sons of the astronaut, denied the film was “anti-American”.
Damien Chazelle, the French-Canadian director, said he had not intended to make a political statement, and had wanted to focus on Armstrong’s personal journey rather than images everyone already recognised.
First Man releases in the UAE on October 11.