The moon-landing movie has sparked a furore for failing to show the planting of a US flag. But Hollywood has a long, complicated relationship with the final frontier

A giant leap for mankind or purely an American achievement? Nobody much cared at the time, but half a century later the moon landings have unexpectedly become a political litmus test. Blame the Neil Armstrong biopic First Man, directed by Damien Chazelle and starring Ryan Gosling – in particular, the moment when (spoiler alert), after a lifetime’s training and tragedy, Armstrong finally sets foot on the moon. We see him descending the lunar lander, we see the astronaut roaming the lunar surface, we see him turn to look back at Earth, but what we don’t see is the precise moment when Armstrong planted the US flag. Many have decided, even without having seen the movie, that this is one small step too far.

“This is total lunacy,” tweeted the Republican senator Marco Rubio. “The American people paid for that mission, on rockets built by Americans, with American technology & carrying American astronauts. It wasn’t a UN mission.”

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Read More ‘If anyone can Maga, it is Nasa’: how First Man’s flag ‘snub’ made space political again

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