4 out of 5 stars
Weather is one of those things we take for granted and it is the ‘go to’ topic for most conversations, because it is something we all have in common. As the butt of a multitude of jokes, meteorologists cop it for being able to keep their jobs despite being wrong 50% of the time. Yet, knowledge of the weather affects financial markets, impacts worldwide educational systems and can be the difference between life and death for populations around the earth.
James Glaisher (Eddie Redmayne) was a pioneer in establishing the science behind predicting weather patterns in the late 1800s. He was ostracised by the science community for considering something that had been impossible until that point in history. The young scientist’s tenacious determination drove him to seek help from people in a multitude of different disciplines. Specifically, in the field of aeronautics of that era, which meant associating with entertainers in the piloting of balloons. Glaisher needed to get his instruments into the upper atmosphere to test his theories and achieve his goals of meteorology. He comes upon the idea to recruit the young widow and pilot Amelia Wren (Felicity Jones) to not only assist with his project, but to set a new altitude record. Both of them would need to understand the motivations, fears and past to survive this death-defying scientific adventure.
Far from being a horror film, The Aeronauts will prove to be one of the most terrifying films for anyone with any fear of heights. Similar to the groundbreaking use of sound in A Quiet Place, director Tom Harper’s film cuts a new level of immersing the viewer in the visual depiction of the flight. Even though the study of weather may not be perceived as the most enthralling of topics, this story proves to be a smorgasbord of drama. It delivers heart-stopping action and incredible chemistry between the lead actors.
This project brings Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne back together for the first time since The Theory of Everything. The award-winning pair prove that strong performances and convincing chemistry can drive the simplest of tales forward to new heights. They show that the skilful use of understatement in their performances can be engaging and provides the drama needed. They manage to keep people wanting to come along for the ride, even if they are terrified of riding in a balloon.
An unannounced character within this weather-based drama is the intricate details found in nature. This awe-inspiring component delivers the most impressive elements to the show. It begs the question of who is the wizard behind nature’s curtain. The sky, stars and atmosphere get a mention in the first book of the Bible, Genesis. “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.”
Scientists and theologians have argued the ‘how’ of this statement, falling down on various theories and considerations. After watching The Aeronauts and seeing the majestic nature of this world, many more questions come to mind. Experiencing the expansiveness of the atmosphere around it, the better question has to be ‘why’ it exists at all? Similar to how this film challenges how we see the world, the Bible helps to answer these questions and expand our thinking and potentially our faith.
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Russ Matthews works for City Bible Forum as the Engaging Manager. He enjoys developing large public forums throughout the city to engage workers with the bigger questions of life. He oversees The Edge and Reel Dialogue.