THE AERONAUTS – A Review by Cynthia Flores
The posters for this film say, “Inspired by a true adventure.” What a surprise to see that the heroic lead for this film set in 1862 is a woman who is an independent free spirit. It’s a film about hope and feeling that anything is possible. It reminds the audience about the freedom and the wonder of looking up to the sky.
The Aeronauts tells the story about the 1862 daredevil balloon pilot Amelia Wren (Felicity Jones) who teamed up with pioneering meteorologist James Glaisher (Eddie Redmayne). Together, they plan to advance human knowledge of the weather and fly higher than anyone in history. While breaking records and furthering scientific discovery, their voyage to the very edge of existence helps them personally. The unlikely pair find their place in the world they have left far behind below them. But they face physical and emotional challenges in the thinning air as the ascent becomes a fight for survival.
The director, Tom Harper, wanted the utmost authenticity in the reenactment of a story based on real events. His film about a Victorian-era scientific exploration and the emergence of weather forecasting is made even more compelling by his team’s precise attention to detail of the replica of that 19th-century gas balloon named The Mammoth. They reached out to renowned aeronautical engineer and world-record-holding balloon pilot Per Lindstrand to help build it. Also, the number of stunts the actors actually did themselves for the film really help sell it. Add to that the situations they allowed themselves to be put in to help with the look of the film – such as a cold box being built around the balloon in the studio, so the actors’ breath was visible. And at the same time, their hands were plunged into ice between takes so that their on-screen shivers and their blue lips were genuine. The dedication of these two actors to their roles is nothing short of extraordinary.
Harper also chose to move the story forward by focusing on the powerful on-screen relationship between Amelia and James. The actors playing them have proven cinematic chemistry, as seen in the 2014 film The Theory of Everything. That pairing earned Redmayne an Academy Award and Jones an Academy Award nomination, so they’re outstanding together. The film also has incredible stunts in it. Some actually performed in mid-flight and in tough environmental situations. Harper’s intent from the beginning was that the experience of the film was one that put the audience inside the basket of the balloon. To achieve this in the most realistic way, as much filming as possible was captured in the air with Amelia and James. Even the most death-defying scenes when Amelia climbs up the outside of the balloon. They were actually done on the real gas balloon up in the air.
The Aeronauts is definitely a must-see for young girls to be inspired by the true story of a female adventurer. They will learn about this story of the Mammoth that rose to 37,000 feet and set the altitude record for forty-five years. The record also stands today as the highest ascension level anyone has undertaken without the aid of bottled oxygen.
I give The Aeronauts a B+ rating. The film does a beautiful job showing what it’s like fighting expectations and refusing to be boxed in by society.
Directed by: Tom Harper
Written by: Tom Harper, Jack Thorne
Selig Rating B+
Running Time: 1hr 40min
Biography / Adventure
Wide Release: December 6th
Starring: Felicity Jones, Eddie Redmayne, Himes Patel
The Selig Rating Scale:
A – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
B – Good movie
C – OK movie
D – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
F – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.