The Aeronauts (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Tom Harper|
|Screenplay by||Jack Thorne|
|Based on||Falling Upwards: How We Took to the Air
by Richard Holmes
|Music by||Steven Price|
|Edited by||Mark Eckersley|
|Box office||$3.2 million|
The Aeronauts is a 2019 biographical adventure film directed by Tom Harper and written by Jack Thorne, from a story co-written by Thorne and Harper. The film is based on the 2013 book Falling Upwards: How We Took to the Air by Richard Holmes. Produced by Todd Lieberman, David Hoberman, and Harper, the film stars Felicity Jones, Eddie Redmayne, Himesh Patel and Tom Courtenay.
The film had its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival on 30 August 2019, followed by a showing at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival. It was released in the United Kingdom on 4 November 2019, and in the United States on 6 December 2019.
Plot ***SPOILER ALERT***
In 1862 London, pilots James Glaisher and Amelia arrive for the balloon launch. Despite being haunted by a vision of her late husband Pierre, Amelia keeps up the brave front and the balloon launches. In a flashback, James appears before the Royal Society and explains his theory that the weather can be predicted but he is laughed out of the building. Returning home, he talks to his parents, who try to persuade him to pursue another avenue of science. On the balloon, James and Amelia start rising through the cloud layer. They soon run into a violent storm which sends the balloon spinning. In a flashback, Antonia persuades her sister, Amelia, to attend a society function. There, Amelia is approached by James and he asks if she would be willing to be his pilot while he attempts to prove his theories to which she agrees.
After a close brush with death, with James suffering a head injury, they make it through the storm and continue rising. James releases the first of five pigeons carrying messages stating the current altitude along with other scientific readings in case they don’t survive. They discover an air current which is home to a group of butterflies, confirming one of John’s theories which James had always refuted. In a flashback, as James practices for the flight, Amelia approaches and tells him she’s changed her mind. At this, John goes to see Amelia to convince her. Amelia goes to Pierre’s grave to reflect. When it begins to snow, as James had predicted, she decides to go with him after all. Eventually, the balloon exceeds 23,000 feet (7.0 km), beating the record for the highest altitude. Amelia finds out James didn’t bring any clothes suitable for the rapidly decreasing temperature and decides to start descending. James refuses, and the two argue. Amelia agrees to keep rising, but makes it clear to James that they’ll have to start descending soon.
James starts experiencing hypoxia from the altitude as they ascend and insists they continue. The two get into a scuffle. That is when Amelia tells him the story of how Pierre sacrificed himself to save her during a balloon flight. This convinces James to descend. Amelia discovers the gas release valve on top of the balloon is frozen. As James falls unconscious, she has no choice but to climb up the outside of the balloon and open the valve from the top. With frostbite setting in on her hands, she struggles to wedge her boot in the valve, causing a slow release of the gas. Amelia loses consciousness and topples over the side but is saved by her rope tether.
When she awakens, Amelia manages to swing back to the balloon and wakes James. As they continue to descend, snow begins to hover around them, and they realize the balloon is collapsing from the loss of too much gas. They manage to close the gas release but it is not enough to slow their descent, so they throw everything they can over the side. When this doesn’t work, they climb into the framework and release the basket. Amelia then prepares to sacrifice herself to save James, but James convinces her that they can use the balloon as a parachute, which slows their descent. They crash through trees and hit the ground hard, with Amelia being dragged along behind the balloon. She wakes and calls for James, who staggers towards her. Both are injured, but euphoric that they managed to survive, setting a new human flight altitude record of 37,000 feet (11.3 km). James’s findings eventually paved the way for the first weather forecasts. James and Amelia go on another balloon flight together.
- Felicity Jones as Amelia
- Eddie Redmayne as James Glaisher
- Phoebe Fox as Antonia, Amelia’s sister
- Himesh Patel as John Trew, James’s friend
- Rebecca Front as Aunt Frances
The Aeronauts is an award worthy film. Considering 90% of the movie is our two mains, in a wicker basket, it packs quite a punch. I feared for Amelia’s life in more than one place, and wanted to smack James for his stupidity. That requires great acting skill.
My hats off to Felicity Jones, and Eddie Redmayne. They gave remarkable performances.
4.5 stars. Well done. – MR