This column struck me today for two reasons. First, I love space flight. Second, I deeply respect humility from those who are bigger than life.
“Three men are going to try to fly to the moon. Three billion people will lionize them if they succeed; lament (or mourn) them if they fail; mock them if they screw up. No pressure.
How do they cope? In last year’s biopic, “First Man,” Armstrong (played by Ryan Gosling) is portrayed as a 1950s guy stuck in a 1960s world. Repression is the key to his emotional composure, achieved at the expense of family life. The 2007 documentary “In the Shadow of the Moon,” which mixes footage of the Apollo missions with interviews with the astronauts (minus Armstrong) as older men, is more revealing. Everyone is his own man; each one deals with his fears in his own way. There’s more than one formula for the Right Stuff.
But “Apollo 11” offers an additional insight, particularly when it comes to Armstrong. Asked by a reporter to describe his feelings “as far as responsibilities of representing mankind on this trip,” Armstrong brings the question down to size: “It’s a job that we collectively said was possible, that we could do, and of course the nation itself is backing us, so we just sincerely hope that we measure up to that.””