August 09, 2020
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The Aviator

A rather fascinating and compelling stand-alone story about an industrious, fastidious, obsessive man who wanted to make the "fastest airplanes and the biggest movies" and wanted to be the "richest man in the world".

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The Aviator
The Aviator
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53
Starring: Leonardo Di Caprio, Cate Blanchett, Kate Beckinsale, Alec Baldwin
Director: Martin Scorsese
Rating: **


Not many of us in India would, perhaps, know a great deal about Howard Hughes. So whether or not Scorsese's biopic on the Texan industrialist-aviator-filmmaker is successful in capturing his life may well be beyond our judgement. However, The Aviator does make for a rather fascinating and compelling stand-alone story about an industrious, fastidious, obsessive man who wanted to make the "fastest airplanes and the biggest movies" and wanted to be the "richest man in the world".

Through an individual's life, the film showcases a wonderful slice of the history of American cinema and the aviation industry. The whole drama and dynamism of a flight, the spirit of discovery and of new challenges runs parallel to the intrigues and enigmas of the glamour world. We start off with the young Hughes (Caprio) making his ambitious World War I epic, Hell's Angels. The maverick Hughes, chasing some quirky notion of perfection, assembles the largest private air force in the world to make his film as authentic as possible. As if that were not enough, on finishing the movie, he decides to reshoot it to be able to include the latest cinema wonder: sound. Result: the most expensive film of its time, "costing as much as real war", which was also a surprise hit despite its release after the stock market crash. In spite of his callow looks, Caprio packs in quite a punch into his performance. The megalomania, the hubris, the arrogance of Hughes is very well observed. His uncompromising creative spirit also hiding within it the seeds of a deeper psychological malaise.

For a film enthusiast there's more that's eye-catching. There is Hughes' romance with Katherine Hepburn (Blanchett gets the accent, the mannerisms and the demeanour just right) and how she later makes way for Ava Gardner (Beckinsale) into his life. Their flirtation at the golf course, the battle over Ibsen and Scarface, the awkwardness when Hughes meets the socialist Hepburn family—these give the film its best moments. Then there's a hilarious sequence where Hughes gets a mathematics professor before the censor certification panel to demonstrate how the "mammaries" of Jane Russell shown in his Outlaw were no more revelatory than the cleavage of some other actresses of the time.

Hughes also gets involved in a dramatic battle with the PanAm chief. But in the end, he trumps before the senator's enquiry commission and gets to fly the Hercules, the biggest plane in the world.

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Courtesy: Film Information

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