Friday, January 10, 2020
Balloon Watch: The Aeronauts (2019)
Format: Amazon Streaming
This movie never states that it's based on real events - but once it's underway, it's very specific to the point where I finally had to check to see if the character portrayed by Eddie Redmayne in the film existed. Spoiler - He did!
But. Half of this movie is real and half is made up, and I am just, honestly, confused why they made this choice - except that I basically get the decision from an optics, casting and audience standpoint. The film swaps out one of the two people who made the real-life trip with a fictional female balloon pilot (Felicity Jones) who is overcoming serious and dramatic baggage tied to ballooning. All of which is made up. Even as she performs feats to save their lives that the real pilot was forced to do. But here, it's someone else.
But, again, the scientist in the film was real and really did go up in a balloon, but with a less-surprising male balloonist.
I honestly have no idea what I just watched, is what I guess I'm saying. I've read articles that are more reflective of my "yes, I understand why they did it, but..." perspective, and others that are really surprisingly blase about "facts" and "what occurred" and seem to think that's some old fashioned thinking and casually suggest if you are questioning the choice, you are both racist and sexist.
Look - I get that "based on a true story" movies change facts all the time, combine people into single characters, etc... - and, honestly, it's part of why I often avoid Hollywood's interpretation of history. But they generally don't swap out one of two main characters with a completely fictional person.
So - I have no idea what I just watched. It was okay. But I tend to think history is hard enough to get a grip on without making up fictional characters in their lives as seemingly major players. So, next time you ask me if I've seen a movie based on a true story and I kinda shrug and say "nope". You now know why.
I watched this just before Togo, which was also based on true events and changed quite a bit, but the basic facts were generally adhered to.