Thursday, November 5, 2009

Amelia (Rhoades)

“Amelia” Flies Into Movie Theaters
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

Writer Gore Vidal was a guest at this year’s Key West Literary Seminar. A boyish version of the acerbic writer appears as a minor character in the new film “Amelia.” Seems his father Gene Vidal had an affair with aviatrix Amelia Earhart.

As we all know, Earhart went missing in 1937 while attempting to fly around the world. Her disappearance was a bigger deal than if Christopher Columbus had sailed off the edge of the world. The American public had bought into her dream, the belief that an independent woman could do the same things as a man. Today, she’s considered a feminist icon.

This may seem like an somewhat antiquated concept, a woman having to prove herself as good as a man, but three-quarters of a century ago “liberated women” were not so common.

Among Amelia Earhart’s aeronautic accomplishments:

· Held the woman’s world altitude record: 14,000 ft (1922).

· First woman to fly the Atlantic (1928).

· Speed records for 100 km (and with 500 lb (230 kg) cargo) (1931).

· First woman to fly the Atlantic solo (1932).

· First woman to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross (1932).

· First woman to fly non-stop, coast-to-coast across the U.S. (1933).

“Amelia,” the slick new biopic about Amelia Earhart, is currently playing at the Tropic Cinema. This is the story of her relationship with her supportive husband George Putnam, sort of a grownup romance with aerial thrills.

Shut your eyes and you’d think it is Katherine Hepburn’s voice. But instead it is two-time Academy Award-winner Hillary Swank playing the famous aviatrix. Her Earhart is portrayed as “a shyly charismatic feminist/tomboy.”

Swank says, “I cut my hair off, I became blonde. She had freckles. Understanding how she carried herself is a big part of playing Amelia. The cadence in which she spoke, her accent -- for eight weeks I studied 16 minutes of newsreel on Amelia, which was really difficult. I think her accent was the most challenging accent that I've ever done in my career of accents. It was hard for me to get.”

Richard Gere co-stars as her husband. Christopher Eccle takes on a supportive role as her co-pilot Fred Noonan. And Ewan McGregor materializes as Gore Vidal’s amorous dad.

“I think Amelia was George’s beloved,” observes Swank. “And he really allowed her to have this life that she dreamed of. She did finally recognize what a gift that was on her final flight and, which she didn't know at the time was her final flight, of course. I think that that's so moving in life when you finally are aware of the meaning of life in a deeper way.”

Indian director Mira Nair (“Salaam Bombay,” “Mississippi Masala”) was determined to make the film accurate. The script by Ronald Bass was based mainly on the acclaimed books “East to the Dawn” by Susan Butler and “The Sound of Wings” by Mary S. Lovell.

Hillary Swank is counting on this film to generate her third Oscar. But if this doesn’t do the trick, she has “Betty Anne Waters,” an Erin Brokovich kind of film, in the works.

Hm. Better count on “Betty Anne Waters.”
[from Solares Hill]

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