Review of First Man (2017)

Moving picture, 92 minutes

Seen in 2019.

Seen with Swedish-language narration on SVT.

Human ancestor species, primarily Pierolapithecus, Sahelanthropus tchadensis (“Toumaï”), Australopithecus sediba and Homo erectus.

A dramatized documentary based on simplified versions of speculative theories from very scant evidence, without acknowledging this problem. Even viewed with that knowledge, it’s not very good. Unprovable gender dynamics are placed front and center in the service of drama, with mature “alpha” males consistently taking the role of conservative villains. Moments of discovery (e.g. tools, scavenging, hunting, weapons, cooking, aesthetic apprecation of nature) take the place of any serious discussion of anatomy. The silicone masks and hairy costumes are unconvincing, the actors clearly limited by their own modern skeletons. It’s a marginal improvement over the opening of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), adding only a sense of context and more recent science. The nicest thing I can say about this series is that it foreshadows inevitable, stronger efforts from the same idea, which will eventually be great, but it also follows many previous efforts from the same idea.

moving picture nature non-fiction series