If you’re not as willing or wager to go and see the new Star Wars movie this weekend, Amazon Prime has released The Aeronauts and its ready to offer you a different glimpse into the reimagined past, although it’s in this galaxy and not as so long ago. There are some minor spoilers below.
The Aeronauts is a historical fiction drama set in London in 1862, depicting a fictionalized portrayal of James Glashier and his historic balloon ascent. Through his research, more information was able to be learned about the atmosphere and advance the science of meteorology. With Eddie Redmayne playing Glashier and co-starring former Star Wars lead Felicity Jones as Amelia Wren, the film offers its viewers a feature-length film with moments of surprise, suspense, and poignant inspiration.
Glashier is a true historical figure, and Eddie Redmayne seems to have found a niche in playing slightly disheveled British scholars who manage to be unimposing despite their troubled lives. Throughout the movie, it’s revealed that he partially wants to study weather and ascend in the balloon for the sake of his father, who is suffering from dementia. Glaisher is dedicated to his research and enjoys accomplishing the task, even if his studious and meticulous mannerisms have grated on Amelia Wren’s nerves since he found a way to introduce himself to her.
Amelia Wren is a completely fictionalized character, and for me, this was disappointing to find out after finishing the movie. She is a widow who lost her beloved husband to a hot air balloon ascent before, when she pushed him to go too high and the balloon ended up in a free-fall, and her husband sacrificed himself to save her. She is hesitant to go on Glashier’s ascent but ultimately helps him raise the funds for the balloon as a pilot with a flair for performance. Thanks to her knowledge and bravery, she is able to help Glashier accomplish his goals and saves his life more than once.
In the historical account, it wasn’t a woman who came with Glashier, but his research assistant, Henry Coxwell, and while Felicity Jones is definitely a proven adventure star (Rogue One), this was disappointing to me—it’s a cheap “mah feminism” movement, and the sad part really is that the movie wouldn’t have been made without changing it this way. The movie trivia parts assure us that Amelia’s character is based on Sophie Blanchard and other women who help the hot air balloon fascination in the 1800s and early 1900s.
The worldbuilding for 1860s London is very well done, though there are definitely some areas where you can tell it was rushed; this is especially true of the city street scenes and the scenes otherwise not up in the hot air balloon.
After Carnival Row, it is nice to see Amazon has cleaned up its ratings a little. The PG-13 label is there mostly for Amelia’s backstory when we see her husband jump out of their falling balloon, and later for Amelia’s attempt to do the same when the balloon descends. There wasn’t a lot of swearing (which I appreciated) and while there was plenty of suspense and danger, it wasn’t violent. Glashier and Wren are platonic friends, but there is a nice bit of tension throughout their movements that hints at deep admiration and gratitude for one another. From the story, neither of them would be able to do the balloon ascent without the other, and the ascent marks a signification milestone for both of them—Glashier in meeting his research goal, and Wren for allowing herself to fly again after her husband’s death.
DO I RECOMMEND THIS?
I’ll admit to being skeptical when I saw it, but overall, I enjoyed the movie. It’s a good historical piece with drama that encourages people to keep going, to try again, and to do what you can to make your dreams come true.
If you enjoy historical pieces full of drama and families, check out my Cinderella-inspired historical spy romance, Kingdom of Ash and Soot (The Order of the Crystal Daggers #1), and for a little more fantasy, check out One Flew Through the Dragon Heart, my steampunk fantasy romance set in 1880s London.
Check out the trailer below:
C. S. Johnson is the award-winning, genre-hopping author of several novels, including young adult sci-fi and fantasy adventures such as the Starlight Chronicles series, the Once Upon a Princess saga, and the Divine Space Pirates trilogy. With a gift for sarcasm and an apologetic heart, she currently lives in Atlanta with her family. Find out more at http://www.csjohnson.me.
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