DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

Amelia, Blu-ray (2009)

Great cinematography and good acting, but the story of Earhart's unfortunately brief career falls a bit flat.

Published on February 5, 2010

Amelia, Blu-ray (2009)

Amelia, Blu-ray (2009)

Starring: Hilary Swank, Ewan Mcgregor, Richard Gere

Director: Mira Nair

Studio: 20th Century Fox Searchlight [2/2/10] 2-disc set with digital copy

Video: 2.35:1 anamorphic/enhanced for 16:9 1080p HD
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, 5.1 DD
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Extras: Deleted scenes, Making Amelia, The Power of Amelia Earhart, The Plane Behind the Legend, Re-Constructing the Planes of Amelia, Movietone newsreels of Earhart
Length: 111 minutes
Rating: ****

As the actual Earhart photos and footage at the end of the film and in the extras show, lanky Academy Award winner Hilary Swank does look much like Earhart did.  Also, Gere – as her manager and eventual husband George Putnam – does point out that she was going to get much fame because she looked like a female version of Lindburgh. The film takes us thru the main points of Earhart’s career sort of like a documentary – starting with her flight as a passenger across the Atlantic, her solo flight across the Atlantic in 1932, her relationship with and marriage to Putnam, her affair with the dashing Gene Vidal, and her vanishing in the South Pacific somewhere on her 1937 around-the-world flight with navigator Fred Noonan (who isn’t depicted in an entirely positive fashion).

Some of Earhart’s feminist leanings are included; the invitation to take Eleanor Roosevelt on a night flight over Washington DC was delightful. The cinematography of the various flights is quite lovely – especially in the hi-res Blu-ray technology; in the deleted scenes one sees some other views that could well have been included in the feature. Pilots and would-be pilots will love Amelia. The film gives a fine recreation of flying in the 1930s, and the fashions of the period. It was interesting to have Putnam explain to her that she had to do a lot of public speaking dates and product endorsements in order to raise the money needed for their round-the-world plane – a Lockheed Electra that cost $30,000. The deleted scenes showing her original fiancee, and on the divorce of Putnam and his original wife might have spiced up the film a bit, which seems unfortunately staid and matter-of-fact. Of course we all know how things turn out, so that’s a challenge in telling the story on film.

Earhart does come across as a very courageous aviatrix, but the planning that went into her round-the-world flight was dangerously incomplete. She had to land to refuel because she had no experience with in-the-air refueling. If she missed the tiny Pacific island where she would refuel she was lost, and she did so because she could only send radio messages but not receive them from the navy ship at the island, and carried no backup Morse code radio on the plane.  The ending is moving, but a suggestion of my overall impression of the film might be that my very favorite thing in it was the 1936 white Cord convertible parked in a corner of the airdrome. I even put it on Still to enjoy that for a bit.

— John Sunier

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