Reviewed by: Sharon Black —first time reviewer
Year 1862 in Victorian England
Scientific researcher risking his life for the betterment of mankind
Gas balloons used in the service of science
Fight for survival—physically and emotionally
The Politically Correct agenda behind changing a lead character from a man into a woman
Attempting to accurately predict the weather
Snow in the Bible
Felicity Jones … Amelia Wren
Eddie Redmayne … James Glaisher
Himesh Patel … John Trew
Phoebe Fox … Antonia
Tim McInnerny … Airy
Rebecca Front … Aunt Frances
Tom Courtenay … Arthur Glaisher
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This movie is based on true events, but not totally factual about the real persons involved. The story is set in 1862 England. It opens on a street scene with much excitement as we enter a carnival atmosphere with a crowd of 10,000 people who have come to witness the launch of a hot air balloon advertised to be England’s answer to France’s hot air balloon altitude record of 23, 000 feet.
James Glaisher portrayed by Eddie Redmayne is seen preparing to participate in the launch as part of his scientific study of meteorology when in enters Amelia Wren played by Felicity Jones and her parachuting dog Posey in full carnival regalia and flare, and so begins a great adventure with much risk involved.
As the story progresses, we learn through flashbacks of the personal tragedy and resistance to the flight and the meteorological inquiry from family and the scientific community that these 2 characters must overcome.
As they begin the flight, the danger starts when they fly into a storm and narrowly escape disaster. The flight itself reveals breathtaking scenery and the miracles of Creation in our atmosphere. As they ascend higher, the flight becomes more dangerous, and we see that Glaisher is ill prepared for the conditions. During a series of heart-stopping moments, we see the courage of these 2 individuals and a friendship and trust develop.
Creation scientist and author Dr. Henry M. Morris noted that James Glaisher was “a CONVINCED BIBLE-BELIEVING CHRISTIAN,” A CREATIONIST who “was one of the signers of the famous Declaration of 1864, affirming this belief in response to the tide of Darwinism then sweeping the country.” Sadly, the film seems to present him as somewhat of a Humanist.
Pioneering English meteorologist Dr. James Glaisher—also an aeronaut and astronomer (born 1809, died 1903)—was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society and President of the Royal Meteorological Society from 1867 to 1868. A lunar crater is named after him.
This venturesome Victorian man of science made 28 balloon ascents for scientific purposes. He wrote well and often, including his book Travels in the Air (1871) which has recently been republished as The Aeronauts: Travels in the Air with an introduction by Professor Liz Bentley, Chief Executive at the Royal Meteorological Society.
In reality Glaisher’s co-pilot was a man, usually HENRY TRACEY COXWELL, grandson of Rev. Charles Coxwell, and one of the world’s foremost balloonists—a man of great bravery and competency.
This movie omits Coxwell entirely and replaces him with a fictional female daredevil, supposedly “a composite of real-life female balloonists” including Sophie Blanchard, a French aeronaut who was the first woman to work as a professional balloonist between 1804 and her death in 1819, when she launched fireworks in the basket that ignited the gas in her balloon and crashed it on the roof of a house—where she fell to her death.
Keith Moore, Head of Library at the Royal Society (Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge), recently said, “It’s a great shame that Henry isn’t portrayed because he performed very well and saved the life of a leading scientist.”
There are many other ways in which the story was changed, as well.
This movie is very refreshing in that there is much less inappropriate language and no romantic component. There is one discreet scene when Amelia changes her clothing. The costumes, street and university scenes appear authentic and help draw viewers into the exciting story.
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.