𝑫𝒐𝒏'𝒕 𝒕𝒆𝒍𝒍 𝒎𝒆 𝑰 𝒄𝒂𝒏'𝒕 𝒅𝒐 𝒊𝒕.
𝑫𝒐𝒏'𝒕 𝒕𝒆𝒍𝒍 𝒎𝒆 𝒊𝒕 𝒄𝒂𝒏'𝒕 𝒃𝒆 𝒅𝒐𝒏𝒆!!
The Aviator is a 2004 American epic biographical drama film directed by Martin Scorsese and written by John Logan. It stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes, Cate Blanchett as Katharine Hepburn, and Kate Beckinsale as Ava Gardner. The supporting cast features Ian Holm, John C. Reilly, Alec Baldwin, Jude Law as Errol Flynn, Gwen Stefani as Jean Harlow, Kelli Garner as Faith Domergue, Matt Ross, Willem Dafoe, Alan Alda, and Edward Herrmann.
Based on the 1993 non-fiction book Howard Hughes: The Secret Life by Charles Higham, the film depicts the life of Howard Hughes, an aviation pioneer and director of the film Hell's Angels. The film portrays his life from 1927 to 1947 during which time Hughes became a successful film producer and an aviation magnate while simultaneously growing more unstable due to severe obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD).
Itching to put viewers in Hughes’ shoes ( or rather, behind his lens), Scorsese designed each year in ‘The Aviator’ to look the way a colored movie from the featured time periods would appear. This was achieved through digitally enhanced post-production and replicates the appearance of both Cinecolor and two-strip Technicolor. Grainy sepia tones are used for sequences from 1927 to 1930 with bright and vivid colors highlighting the Jazz age of the late thirties and forties. Giving as much attention to detail in the costuming department (which, #funfact, had a budget loan of $2 Million alone), the cinematography and carefully ladled direction serve as adminicles on a quest for authenticity with admiration and equity.
Prior to filming DiCaprio prepared by spending time with the real life Jane Russell (whose first role was in Hughes’ 𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑶𝒖𝒕𝒍𝒂𝒘) to hear her memories and to get an impression of Hughes. Awestruck by DiCaprio following this visit - Hughes’ reputation as a reserved but extremely bull-headed man is captured on screen with the longevity of poise and ill-fated intensity. Stealing scenes at times with a desire for credibility in stride, Blanchette's cheerfully stylized performance as Hepburn makes her more than deserving of the Oscar she received for it( which, funny enough, also makes her the first person to win one for playing a real-life Oscar winner). Balancing moments in which Hughes and Hepburn act like oil and water with those in which they seem compatible beyond Compare: a relationship muddled by codependency finds Its way on screen and avoids being an out-of-place contraption.
Ultimately a biopic intended to capture Hughes’ influence on the cinematic and aviation industry - it is a relief to know that these are shown rather accurately. Hell’s Angels (which did really go massively over-budget) stands out as a pioneering effort in the realm of realism and special effects. Much of Hughes involvement as it relates to Aviation is oversimplified, but his achievements (like breaking records) and setbacks (like potentially life-threatening crashes - which he was in a total of four) are given a fair chance to shine. What isn’t addressed as comprehensively is Hughs’ tumultuous relationships and his ongoing struggle with mental illnesses. The tendency for an intimate partners to distance themselves as a result of Hughes’ “quirks” and his obsession with perfection is intermediately dangled, but ‘The Aviator’ omits the fact that he was married twice during the periods covered (amongst other things). In addition to this the origin and development of his OCD is lightly sanitized as being related to his upbringing and there is no mention of factors that now reportedly excavated this condition; in example are the fact that Hughes contracted syphilis and also became addicted to pain medication following a significant injury, but I imagine a story with these elements present would be lacking in sympathy despite being garnished with understanding and bedridden insight.
All things considered: Scorsese's aptitude for treating most easily polarized figures as percontation and not absolutes is here in full display. It is through a substantially collaborative effort that Hughes’ intricacy is feasibly digested, and it is a delightfully rendered reminder that taking the risk of falling with experience is better than not reaching for great heights at all. Far from being the most accurate portrayal of Hughes’ life with the exclusion of many defining facts: ‘The Aviator’ captures the essence of who Hughes was, who Hughes wanted to be, and why his story should matter.