From Hollywood's legendary Cocoanut Grove to the pioneering conquest of the wild blue yonder, Martin Scorsese's The Aviator celebrates old-school filmmaking at its finest. We say "old school" only because Scorsese's love of golden-age Hollywood is evident in his approach to his subject--Howard Hughes in his prime (played by Leonardo DiCaprio in his)--and especially in his technical mastery of the medium reflecting his love for classical filmmaking of the studio era. Even when he's using state-of-the-art digital trickery for the film's exciting flight scenes (including one of the most spectacular crashes ever filmed), Scorsese's meticulous attention to art direction and costume design suggests an impassioned pursuit of craftsmanship from a bygone era; every frame seems to glow with gilded detail. And while DiCaprio bears little physical resemblance to Hughes during the film's 20-year span (late 1920s to late '40s), he efficiently captures the eccentric millionaire's golden-boy essence, and his tragic descent into obsessive-compulsive seclusion. Bolstered by Cate Blanchett's uncannily accurate portrayal of Katharine Hepburn as Hughes' most beloved lover, The Aviator is easily Scorsese's most accessible film, inviting mainstream popularity without compromising Scorsese's artistic reputation. As compelling crowd-pleasers go, it's a class act from start to finish. --Jeff Shannon
In his commentary track, director Martin Scorsese offers his own impressions of Howard Hughes and rattles off his memories of experiencing Hughes's films. He mentions how he made Cate Blanchett watch every Katharine Hepburn film from the '30s on the big screen, and observes that Kate Beckinsale had "a real sense of the stature of a Hollywood goddess." But in general he doesn't talk much about the craft of making the film. That area is covered better by editor Thelma Schoonmaker, who also appears on the commentary track, and producer Michael Mann makes a few appearances (all were recorded separately). The picture is brilliant, but the 5.1 sound is not as aggressive in the rear speakers and subwoofer as one might expect, other than some nice surround effects in the Hell's Angels flying sequence.
The second disc collects almost three hours of features. There's one unnecessary deleted scene, and an 11-minute making-of featurette that's basically the cast and director heaping praise on each other. More interesting are the short featurettes on visual effects (including the XF-11 scene, of course), production design, costumes, hair and makeup, and score, and Loudon Wainwright discusses his and his children's musical performances. Historical perspective is provided by spotlights on Hughes's role in aviation and his obsessive-compulsive disorder, and a 43-minute Hughes documentary from the History Channel (part of the Modern Marvels series, it focuses on his mechanical innovations and spends less than a minute on his movies). More unusual are DiCaprio and Scorsese's appearance on an OCD panel, and a half-hour interview segment DiCaprio did with Alan Alda. --David Horiuchi
The Personalities of The Aviator
| Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes |
"Sometimes I truly fear that I... am losing my mind. And if I did it... it would be like flying blind."
| Cate Blanchett as Katharine Hepburn |
Howard Hughes: "You're the tallest woman I have ever met."
Katharine Hepburn: "And all sharp elbows and knees. Beware."
| Kate Beckinsale as Ava Gardner |
Howard Hughes: "Does that look clean to you?"
Ava Gardner: "Nothing's clean, Howard. But we do our best, right?"
| Gwen Stefani as Jean Harlow |
Jean Harlow in Hell's Angels: "Would you be shocked if I put on something more comfortable?"
| Jude Law as Errol Flynn |
Errol Flynn in Captain Blood: "Up the riggings, you monkeys! Break out those sails and watch them fill with the wind that's carrying us all to freedom!"
| Director Martin Scorsese |
"You get a sense of Howard Hughes being Icarus with the wax wings. Those wings were great for a while, but he flies too close to the sun." --Martin Scorsese
Other Movies by The Aviator's Oscar® Winners
The Aviator at Amazon.com
The Aviator soundtrack
Howard Hughes: The Real Aviator
Howard Hughes movies
Great movies of the 1930s
The films of Martin Scorsese
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
It is a long movie, and it will be interesting to see whether a modern audience, many doubtless unfamiliar with the Hughes legend, will find it as intriguing as we who remember the Hughes of Las Vegas etc. Take the clue from the title, this is a film about the young Hughes who was a genius and a creative dynamo, and an almost overlooked pioneer of aviation. This was a young man full of ambition, dreams, energy and contradictions. The film not only presages the pitiable creature Hughes will become, a slave to his obsessive compulsive illness, but it does so with sympathy and sensitivity.
A first rate biopic done with flair and style. Another worthwhile look at an American life.
That's the group I'm happily in. It is by no means the greatest epic ever made, but for me it hearkens back to the glory days of the early Cinemascope, Technicolor Hollywood epic, but with better special effects. The sets and costumes are completely luscious. No expense has been spared. You feel glamorous just watching the darn thing. The acting, while very good all around, teeters close to going "over-the-top," which is just what this sort of film needs. It is not a subtle film. It is trying to tell the epic story of an epic American who achieved epic things and endured epic personal battles. A bit of bluster and scenery chewing is in order.
For example, everyone loved Cate Blanchett as Katherine Hepburn(heck she won the Oscar). I admired her performance too...but when you watch it, you see that it is pretty unsubtle. Was Hepburn, even in quiet moments, really so full of PERSONALITY? But the film needs this to work.
Alan Alda was great...he plays slimy so well now. In my mind, he's going to totally shake off Hawkeye Pierce and emerge as a key player of political villany. In real life, he seems like a terrific, open, intelligent and easily amused person. Scary how just a tiny tweaking of those dials makes him creepy. Good stuff!! Kate Beckinsale, out of her league, does okay as Ava Gardner, but the role is generic. You never feel Ava Gardner...just some nameless starlet.Read more ›
I can't say great things about the blu-ray because it really didn't enhance anything. That said, for $10.00 I won't complain. If you have the DVD, don't bother with the blu-ray. If you don't, it will be 10 bucks well spent.
See it on as big a screen as possible. You will meet, best as he can be recreated for you, a complex and driven creator named Howard Hughes who attempted to do more with his life than simply rest on the $$$ he was born with. Warts and all but funny too. As for the rest of the cast, no extras here -- the recreation of Ava Garner was particularly smashing and unexpected.
Despite having lived through the era and read all the Life magazines & other news junk about Hughes' last days in my teens, the movie taught me I knew nothing at all worth knowing about him. I had sat down just expecting a typical Hollywood stroll through big sets, snazzy clothes, all that jazz. I can count on one hand films that were actually an advanced learning experience, and I have seen dumpsters full of them in 55 years. But this is not only not one of those clunkers, but also close to the top.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Too long. Focused more on the politics of TWA than his eccentric behaviorsPublished 9 hours ago by philmore
Very interesting movie about the life of the reclusive Howard Hughes. It brought to life some of the topics of his life I was unaware of. I would recommend this moive to othersPublished 9 hours ago by BobT
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|Director's Commentary on "The Aviator"||
Same thing happens with my copy, and I plan to exchange it. When I try to play the commentary instead of the commentary being activated, the subtitles are activated instead. Some forums discuss the content of the commentary in detail, so this is not a problem with every copy.
Dec 7, 2009 by already in use | See all 4 posts
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