Movie Review of The Aeronauts
As I am writing this review, I am already enjoying the fact that the web browser is complaining to me about my use of English spellings for English words. I would like to say that I selected this movie because I was looking for something obscure you had never heard of, a highly under rated film you just have to go see, or because it is a visual masterpiece soon to be a hallmark of the greatest films collection. I would like to say that, but I cannot. I clicked on this movie because I wanted something new to watch and it had Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones in it. That was it. But dear lord was I happy with the choice.
The story follows James Glaisher (Eddie Redmayne) who was a real life scientist in the late 1800’s. Side note, I will admit I will not be satisfied until I see Eddie play every major scientist to ever come out of Britain. He had nailed famed scientists Stephen Hawking and Newt Scamander already, and he nails James Glaisher as well. Anyway, the film follows Glaisher’s record ascent in a balloon to a height of around 35,000 feet above sea level. The goal being to make observations and take reading to further his view that weather could be predicted. He is assisted on his journey by Amelia Wren (Felicity Jones) who is a noted aeronaut. This ascent, however, is her first since the death of her husband who perished in her last journey to the heavens. The trip they undertake challenges them to band together to survive the dangerous climb and descent, if they are to change the world of science for the better.
The first thing I will say about the film is that it is inspired by a true adventure. And they are right, but as with most inspired by a true story movies and novels, it takes a lot of liberties. The first is that Amelia Wren is not a real person. Glaisher did actually take a trip in a balloon to an estimated 35,000 ft, but most of his excursions were with his co-pilot Henry Coxwell. They also set the story with Glaisher as the tag along to the pilot when in actuality Glaisher was so good at ballooning, he was a founding member of the Aeronautical Society of Great Britain. But I’m okay with these changes. The dynamic of Glaisher as more naive but passionate scientist, hell bent on his goal to reach the heavens, fits well with Eddie’s portrayal. Redmayne is very good at playing the outsider of a group which fits with the role of Glaisher as an outsider from the scientific community that mocks his theories on weather predictability. It also makes him the sort of character that can relate well to others and care for them. It also plays well with Jones’s portrayal of Amelia. Bombastic, outgoing, and strong, you get the idea that if not for the death of her husband, she would think herself invincible. But it is clear behind the facade that there is now this definite weakness caused by the death of her husband. The two mix well together and are able to feed off of what the other needs.
The movie itself combines amazingly beautiful scenes from the ascent in the balloon with touching character flashbacks of what lead them to this point. I think my favorite of these subplots is between Glaisher and his father. Glaisher Senior is rapidly aging and seems to have either dementia or Alzheimer’s. James visits him at the family clock shop that his mother still runs, and is told that he is getting worse. It is clear from his interactions with his father where his love for the stars and the sky come from. But it is the care with which he deals with his father’s ailment and attempts to bring hope to the old man that will have you tearing up the most. It is truly a good insight into why we drive ourselves to become what we are, and Amelia’s flashbacks are no less emotional. The battle to keep depression and grief from overwhelming us in a time of tragedy is something a lot of us can relate to. Especially right now.
So if you have the time and are looking for something to watch, I included the link below. The movie is free to Amazon Prime members. Let me know what you think of it in the comments. Or if you have other videos/movies you want me to check out you can throw them there also.