The Aeronauts


D: Tom Harper

Entertainment One/Amazon Studios/Filmnation/Mandeville (Todd Lieberman, David Hoberman & Tom Harper)

UK/US 🇬🇧 🇺🇸 2019

100 mins


W: Jack Thorne

DP: George Steel

Ed: Mark Eckersley

Mus: Steven Price

Felicity Jones (Amelia Rennes), Eddie Redmayne (James Glaisher), Himesh Patel (John Trew), Tom Courtenay (Arthur Glaisher), Vincent Perez (Pierre Rennes)

Felicity Jones & Eddie Redmayne unite on screen for the first time since 2014's The Theory Of Everything for this airborne adventure inspired by true historical events.

Set in Victorian London, scientist James Glaisher and his hot air balloon pilot Amelia Rennes set to the sky to break the height record and conduct meteorological studies for weather patterns and atmospheric temperature. The science is kept light as it becomes more about peril in the sky, whilst the non-linear narrative provides some backstory to the duo and their motivations.

While the scenes set on the balloon provide a great deal of nail-biting moments, the film constantly cuts away to the pre-events at the height of dramatic tension, making the record-breaking milestone feel very interrupted.

The film also has some problems with characterisation and historical accuracy, especially with the two main characters, Redmayne's James Glaisher being portrayed as over-ambitious and glory-at-all-costs, whilst Jones' Amelia Rennes is the real heroine, displaying acts of courage to save them both as their lives hang in the balance.  This would be fine if it was the truth, but the latter character simply didn't exist. Glaisher's real-life companion was a balloonist named Henry Coxwell who was completely cut out of the film for the sake of diversity and 2019 social justice identity politics.

The film is entertaining enough despite this, though it could have used better polished visual effects and cleaner sound design, but it still begs a question why so much is fictional, especially since there were plenty of real female scientists around the same period who would be worthy of a cinema biopic.

On a lighter note, my local cinema gave out an Aero chocolate bar to viewers, which was a nice touch. It's just a shame that a bad taste was left in my mouth by the whole forced battle of the sexes theme which is pushed a little too far and is nothing but a load of hot air.


Eddie Redmayne & Felicity Jones in The Aeronauts
Eddie Redmayne & Felicity Jones in The Aeronauts
Did You Know:
James Glaisher was a real English meteorologist who is remembered for his pioneering work as a balloonist. Between 1862 and 1866 he made numerous ascents to measure the temperature and humidity of the atmosphere at its highest levels. With his co-pilot aeronaut Henry Tracey Coxwell, they broke the world record for altitude on September 5, 1862. Coxwell is omitted from the film, and replaced with the fictional Amelia Rennes. This character draws some inspiration from various real women including Sophie Blanchard, a French aeronaut who was the first woman to work as a professional balloonist between 1804 and her death in 1819.