AMELIA on DVD & Blu-ray!

Amelia Earhart is probably still the best-know female aviator despite the fact that she disappeared without a trace over 50 years ago. Director Mira Nair has now created a long-overdue tribute to this incredibly audacious woman with “Amelia,” which has now arrived on blu-ray. Amelia (Hilary Swank) has always been fascinated by the prospect of flying. At an early age she witnessed the first flying machines and decided to become a pilot herself.

Star Hilary Swank has the boyish looks that are a near doppelganger for the first woman who flew across the Atlantic. She is a fine actress and has the chops necessary to bring Earhart to life. Swank stars against strong leading man Richard Gere in what should have been a stellar cast that included Ewan McGregor and Christopher Eccleston in supporting roles. The Englishman and Scot are both highly talented. Unfortunately, the first problem that arises is the near wooden performance of Swank that loses the ambition and charisma of Earhart. She was one of the largest figures in America in pre-World War II days and Swank does not conjure up a woman so universally loved. Gere, on the other hand, has been one of the favorite actors for women since 1982´s “An Officer and a Gentleman,” but he doesn´t share chemistry with Swank.

The movie begins almost immediately showing some of the final moments of Earhart´s (Swank) failed flight around the world where her husband and publicist George Putnam (Gere) is getting word that Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan (Eccleston) are flying against stronger headwinds and may not have enough fuel to reach the tiny island of Howland Island. The film then moves back to Earhart´s earlier days when she fell in love with flying and, like everything else in the film, it spends precious little time proving depth to her history. This is a movie where almost everything is glossed over except for a few long looks between Earhart and purported lover Gene Vidal (McGregor). It isn´t long before Putnam hires Earhart to fly as a passenger to cross the Atlantic. This first flight is one of the film´s better scenes and whether or not Earhart almost fell out of the plane happened, it contains the most dramatic moment of the film.

The unfortunate ending to Earhart´s highly publicized flight around the world is not hypothesized by the filmmakers and screenwriters Ronald Bass and Anna Hamilton Phelan deserve some credit for not taking an Oliver Stone-like route to telling the story. Director Mira Nair though needed to add just a little more drama to the final moments and I feel she spent entirely too much time on the radio communications between Earhart and the Naval forces that were waiting for her at Howland Island. The point was gotten very quickly and any emotion that Earhart was unable to communicate and find the island was lost. A few shots at distraught Noonan showed that the navigator understood death was upon him, but Swank gave little emotion during this drawn-out sequence. The filmmakers could have done without the hypothesized moments in the cabin of the Electra and focused on how everybody else handled the events.

“Amelia” is a very gentle film with many nuances surrounding the Amelia Earhart mythology. It is never sensational and instead opts for a closer look at the woman that Amelia was rather than the adventurous feats she continuously undertook. Her historic solo crossing of the Atlantic is playing for now more than a few minutes while her globe-circling attempt to fly around the world bookends the film as a whole. Instead of focusing on the near-misses, the strenuous and undoubtedly frightening moments of some of her flights, instead we learn what kind of a woman Amelia Earhart really was. How her relationship with George Putnam – who adored and loved her like a goddess – grew, how she withstood the temptations presented to her by the aviation industry and other powerful companies, how she disliked the celebrity status she had and the sell-out she felt she had become, and how she ultimately dedicated her entire life to flying.

“Amelia” is a touching and heartfelt movie, very different from what I expected. Focusing on her character, life and her person as a whole, it is much less action-laden as you might expect but more than makes up for it by wonderfully keen observations and warmth. I loved the film and will clearly watch it again and again.

Blu-ray Disc Special Features:
Disc One
    •    Theatrical version
    •    Deleted scenes
    •    Making Amelia
    •    The Power of Amelia Earhart
    •    The Plane Behind the Legend
    •    Re-constructing the Planes of Amelia
    •    Movietone News

Disc Two
    •    Digital Copy

DVD Special Features:
    •    Theatrical version
    •    Deleted scenes
    •    Making Amelia
    •    The Power of Amelia Earhart
    •    Movietone News

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