“Amelia” is the well-researched biopic of Amelia Earhart, one of America’s most recognizable and heroic historical figures. Probably the most famous aspect of Amelia Earhart is her mysterious death at age 39, while trying to be the first pilot ever to circumnavigate the globe. What is fortunate about this film, however, is that it spends much more time on her incredible life than her mysterious and untimely death.
Early in the film, Earhart, played by an always incredible Hilary Swank, declares that she wants to simply “fly for the fun of it”. It becomes clear through her story that she was neither the best pilot nor most gifted orator around, but she captured America’s heart with her speaking and flying, simply by pursuing what she loved because she loved it.
Something that I really appreciated about the film was its sense of history, and respect for the people involved in Earhart’s story. She married her promoter, George Putnam, (a believable Richard Gere) after a reluctant courtship and a feminist pre-nup of sorts, and a few years later had an affair with another man.
But rather than romp in the lurid sexiness of a feminist icon exploiting her options, the film quietly and respectfully follows her search for love in the midst of her career and in-flight freedom. Eventually, when she finds love in repentance and a return to faithfulness with her husband, we gain an understanding, not only of the heartache that her wayfaring caused, but the incredible love and forgiveness that her marriage contained. Several reviewers have found fault with the short-lived affair and limited on-screen sexuality, but I found it refreshing to watch a film, that for once, told the truth without reveling in the sleaze.
Earhart’s relationship to her husband is beautiful and passionate without being illicitly sexual, so that grown-ups can savor a knowing smile and kids will be none the wiser. While adult themes do run through the movie, it’s an important story for all of us to remember. Earhart’s life-story is much more than a tomboy pilot who disappeared – it’s a tale of American Exceptionalism at it’s most courageous, an honest, inspiring and truthful tale of one woman’s ambitions and the ruckus they caused.