The Aeronauts, rated PG
The Aeronauts is a beautifully filmed and well-acted movie inspired by true events (see “Spoiler Alert” below on the “true events” claim). Just out of the theatres, the movie is now showing for free on Amazon Prime. The film is directed by Tom Harper. Harper wrote the film with Jack Thorne (Wonder).
The film is set in September, 1862 in England. James Glaisher, played by Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything, The Danish Girl, Fantastic Beast films) is a scientist who believes that it is possible to predict the weather. For this claim, he is laughed and scoffed at by his peers. Amelia Wren, played by Oscar nominee Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything) is a widowed balloon pilot.
The film uses flashbacks to flesh out the main character’s back stories. Glaisher and Wren eventually agree to team up to attempt to go higher than the previous 23,000-foot altitude record, and we see them take off in front of a large crowd.
The film, which includes a lot of CGI (computer generated imagery) would have best been seen on the big screen. We see amazing shots of London as the balloon climbs through the clouds. There is then a terrifying scene as the balloon is tossed violently as it goes through a thunderstorm.
James wants to exceed the 23,000-foot altitude, and take weather measurements. But when they reach that level however, he wants to continue upward, despite the increasing cold temperatures and air pressure. This puts both of their lives in danger.
Themes in the film include danger, courage and science. Content concerns include some terrifying scenes on balloon rides (going through a thunderstorm, a man jumps to his death).
The two leads played their parts well, and actually did fly in the balloon seen in the film to an altitude of approximately 8,000 feet.
****Spoiler Alert: The actual historical event that the film is based on took place on September 5, 1862. Glaisher teamed with Henry Coxwell, not the fictional Amelia Wren to reach approximately 38,999 feet. Coxwell is absent in this film, replaced by Wren, whose character is a compilation of several balloonists, including Coxwell and Sophie Blanchard, one of the few women in the field of aeronautics, and one who continued to fly after her husband died in an accident.
The Aeronauts is an entertaining and visually appealing film, despite being highly fictionalized and only very loosely inspired by true events.