Wednesday, October 24, 2018

First Man, Where’s the adventure?

There’s a nice little conversation about First Man over at Tyler Cowen’s joint. The opening line of Tyler’s review:
I enjoyed this movie, although I would not describe it as a must-see. It is best for showing the rickety and claustrophobic nature of the moon landing program.
Hmmm... Not sure about that as a judgment about the movie, but that’s kinda what I thought when I saw when I saw a lunar lander at Kennedy Space Center. But that Saturn was HUGE. Tyler’s last sentence: “By the way, this movie has bombed at the box office, perhaps not a good sign for the revival of adventure in contemporary culture.”

During the ensuing conversation several Transnational Pants Machine remarked, “The movie bombed precisely because it utterly lacked all sense of adventure, and decided to be about a guy who misses his dead daughter.” And then hoof_in_mouth, “This was not an adventure movie, it was a personal drama against the backdrop of the space program. I was hoping for the opposite.”

I think that’s right. Not (primarily) an adventure movie. But then neither was 2001: A Space Odyssey, which was more of a quasi-religious revelation. Star Wars was adventure, though with all that mystical Force razzmatazz it pretended to be a mystical quest. But that was only pretense. The quest motif was subordinated to adventure.

Maybe that’s the problem with First Man, Chazelle didn’t quite know what kind of movie he wanted to make. It wasn’t an adventure film, though it has adventure aspects. It wasn’t fully a personal drama, but that surely was in the mix. Nor was it a quasi-religious revelation, thought it seemed headed in that direction.

What is it?

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  1. Its difficult at times to make distinctions echtria (an adventure lit. outsideness, to leave home)generally warlike.

    Immrama (a spiritual journey lit voyage). Focus on the journey, strongly christian in tone.

    Both excursions into supernatural territory. "Voyages of discovery, over the sea, under a lake, location of mysterious islands etc"

    Date a serious determining factor echtria is the older of the two.


  2. p.s Folks I know who have never watched and refuse to watch the Soprano's view it as transitional pants.