Sunday, November 1, 2009

"Amelia" A Beautiful Movie

Last night there was a generation gap at the movie theater. "This Is It" was showing with its predictable age moviegoers, and at the other end of the spectrum we older folks attended one of the first showings of "Amelia," the story of Amelia Earhart.

I had gone along mostly because my husband wanted to see this movie, figuring the excessive hype about it meant it was probably awful. I had read some pretty bad reviews too. Turns out neither the hype nor the bad reviews fit my reaction. My husband, of course, loved the movie. I loved the spectacular views in the sky, flying into storms, soaring above thick clouds, and Amelia's thoughts about her love of flying.

On the other hand, I had read that Hilary Swank studied newsreels and photos of Amelia thoroughly to get her voice and mannerisms just right and I think that was a mistake. Earhart was a 19th century-born woman, after all, uncomfortable in those situations and as a result Swank's portrayal of her was wooden. If only she had allowed some of her own charisma on camera to shine through, this would have been a much better movie.

I was surprised to be disappointed at Richard Gere's portrayal of George Putnam, Earhart's husband. Reviewers had accused both stars of "mailing it in" and I could almost agree with that assessment. Gere is sort of a local hero since he is related to a prominent local family so we're all predisposed to like him in any part, but this definitely wasn't one of his better movies. Of course the screenwriting had a lot to do with it.

I hadn't been aware of Gore Vidal's (and his father's) role in Amelia Earhart's life so I learned something, and it was very interesting to see her reaction to criticisms of her flying abilities. I was also interested in Noonan's problems in her final flight.

Earhart's story is one of the intriguing mysteries of American history and I thought it perfect for a movie. Proof of that is the fact that it seems so current and yet she disappeared in 1937. She was way ahead of her time, a real pioneer.

Many of us have known of someone who claimed to be Earhart. When I worked in Dayton, NJ, one of my coworkers swore her friend from Jamesburg, NJ was actually Earhart. She had supposedly wanted out of the life of fame and so had disappeared on purpose to live anonymously in NJ the rest of her life. Since no one will ever know exactly what happened, we can only make educated guesses and that makes this story one that will always capture our attention.

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