The Aeronauts ascends through the weathering clouds to deliver a beautifully panoramic adventure. The sky is our limit. Our ambitious endeavours, boundless by the mysterious stars that plague the night. Eloquent diamonds dancing on a twinkled canvas. The infallible lust for discovery, eternally motivated to make the world and ourselves more habitable. Safer. Predictable.
Harper’s loose adaptation of Holmes’ novel, for better or worse, takes the capabilities of artistic licence and alters history for the sake of entertainment. Whilst unnecessary in depicting the scientific discoveries and world-shattering record at the time, Harper’s daring adventurous thrill-ride passes through the stratosphere with vivid colours. Meteorologist Glaisher and balloon pilot Rennes attempt to break the world-record height of 23,000ft, but soon encounter a battle for survival when their minds become deluded from the insufficient oxygen.
As I was saying, artistic licence is a powerful element to filmmaking. In the wrong hands, an irresponsible change in history could be produced, tarnishing the events that actually occurred. Conversely, it could be used to elevate a vital moral that, whilst enhances entertainment, retains the delicacy of history without diminishing its achievements. Harper and Thorne teeter on the two halves, precariously floating through thunderous clouds of inaccuracy. The removal of Glaisher’s scientific partner Coxwell, replaced by the fictional Rennes, was haphazard. With no acknowledgement of his existence, The Aeronauts clearly rains down upon the realms of light entertainment, and that’s absolutely fine. But to utilise Glaisher’s real persona instead of fictionalising his character whilst retaining his discoveries, felt deflating for Coxwell.
Having said that, the addition of Rennes and surprisingly making her story at the forefront of the narrative, inspired a bountiful amount of female empowerment during the repressed Victorian era. Her lack of knowledge in Glaisher’s area of expertise resulted in an accessible screenplay that allowed audiences to instantly connect with her. As the human component to the aeronautical adventure, Rennes seamlessly moves forward in being the main protagonist. A refreshing change that juxtaposes Redmayne and Jones’ previous partnership in ‘The Theory of Everything’. It allowed Jones, who absolutely captivated with her buoyant performance, to showcase a physically demanding and emotionally vulnerable journey.
The tragic personal loss that plagues Rennes’ stability, testing her ornate instinct in survivability. Riding in thunderous clouds, battling oxygen deficiency and climbing a freezing balloon whilst combating frostbite at 36,000ft. Just a shame that Redmayne rarely changes up his usual bumbling performance that we’ve seen time and time again. Harper’s intent focus on teamwork and partnership, allows the film’s moral to come shining through. Some reach for the stars, others push others towards them.
The flashback structure prevents a completely linear experience for occurring, and adds appropriate drips of backstory without diminishing the excitement of their gradual ascent. The abrupt cuts do produce an irregular pace, especially when the two barely survive a raincloud only for the editing to splice a societal debate back in London, but the outstanding visuals and Price’s intense score (as to be expected...) instantly regulate the taste for adventure again. Simply the best panoramic visuals of the year. The endless blanket of cumulus clouds envelope you in an overwhelming horizon, conveying the solidarity of these two daredevils. Then, when they reach the summit of their ascent, well, I was on the edge of my seat. Superbly thrilling!
The Aeronauts, despite the historical inaccuracy and fictionalised strands for the sake of entertainment, floats through the atmosphere in a gloriously thrilling adventure that remains both grounded in narration and afloat in excitement. No hot air balloon rides for me...