Into The Rainbow

The Aeronauts
Stars: Felicity Jones, Eddie Redmayne, Himesh Patel, Tom Courtenay, Phoebe Fox, Vincent Perez, Anne Reid, Rebecca Front and Bella the dog
Director: Tom Harper
Scriptwriter: Jack Thorne from a story by Tom Harper and Jack Thorne
Composer: Steven Price
Cinematography: George Steel
Mandeville Films/Amazon Studios
Running Time 99 Minutes
Rating: PG 13
Be aware of an animal in a parachute. Do not try this stunt. 

Each year there is a film or documentary about man going into space, rocket launches, rescues from the space capsule and other drama.  “The Aeronauts” concerns what happened 100-plus years before, when men and women were experimenting with hot-air balloons (hot coal air, wooden baskets and hand-made silk balloons) to go into the sky and see what is there. How high can you go without oxygen?  What do you see up there at 28,000 feet in the open air?  Such is the story of Aeronauts, who, in the 1860’s were trying to forecast weather changes with the use of balloons. Some television audiences may think they are still doing this, and no one is perfect. However, it is considered a science and this is what the premise of “The Aeronauts” is, push the parameters of science to the utmost.  The film stars Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones, who also starred together in “The Theory of Everything.” This time, they are sky adventurers and each with their own emotional situation. 

The story revolves around the personalities of two people.  James Glaisher (Eddie Redmayne) who is a scientist studying weather, and Amelia Wren (Felicity Jones) a balloon pilot who has her own hot-air balloon. James needs a balloon to test his theory about what happens at over 20,000 feet, while Amelia doesn’t want to fly anymore.  They reach an agreement, and with a spectacular take-off for publicity purposes, up they go with no parachutes, no warm clothing and a desire to go up and up and up.  During the hours spent in the air, they begin to explore the personalities of each other, with Amelia being the hard working one and James being the writer.  It is she who can detect wind changes while he sends back notes with carrier pigeons.  The scenery is spectacular with shots of this lone balloon up at 20,000 with nothing but sun, cloud formations and silence. Yes, there are problems and yes, this is a harrowing adventure both for those in the air and on the ground.  If you thought fixing something outside a space station was tough, try fixing a balloon in the air. Skip the word “tenacity,” the early Aeronauts had just plain guts. 

This is Felicity Jones’s picture, as she inhabits the role of Amelia Wren (based on the real-life person of Sophie Blanchard). Her facial expressions can be read when she has no make-up and in the air piloting the balloon. Eddie Redmayne is ever the scientist who has faith in science, but can’t see the world around him.  A great part of the film is on their historic flight, while the rest of the cast waits on the earth to spot that balloon in the sky.  The music score adds much to the film and the cinematography is downright dramatic. 

I enjoyed this film that gives us an idea of what it was like to fly after Icarus had his wings melted and landed in the sea.  Silk balloons came next and Orville Wright wasn’t born yet. The English and French had a battle between who could get their balloon into the sky first and the highest first. Adventure films have given us escapes from dinosaurs, outer space aliens, tsunami’s, tornados, hurricanes, forest fires, and here comes an escape from a thunder cloud at 20,000 in an open-air balloon.  The camera brought me into the basket to experience raw weather.  The first to look into the sky and wonder how to get closer to the stars, well, for Amelia and James, it was straight up. This film is a nail-biter. 


Copyright 2019 Marie Asner