I saw the biopic Amelia on its opening night last month and found a very small audience - mostly made up of my party of five seniors (who I had encouraged to see the film, but later wondered whether I should have been quite so encouraging, and who knew the background story) and a couple in the back row - say no more!.

feb-amelie
Local fan does Amelia
My interest was firstly that I am an ex pilot, and secondly that a great many of the locations chosen for the movie were in South Africa. In evidence, in all its splendour was Rand Airport in Gauteng looking very much a Miami field of the 1930's even though this is how it actually looks right now in 2010!. Also recognisable was the final scene, where Amelia takes off for the fateful leg of her around the world trip to Howland Island, as this was shot on the Transkei coast, looking out onto the Indian Ocean (should it not be the Pacific?)

I thought the acting was excellent and it's uncanny how much Hillary Swank and Amelia looked alike. The musical score was haunting and beautiful but beyond this, the recounting of a life with factual rather than fanciful or unsubstantiated accounts doomed the movie to mediocrity.

Richard Gere, as Amelia's husband George P. Putnam, worked well but her brief affair with the dashing Gene Vidal (Ewan McGregor) was confusing as was her founding of the female pilots group. She occasionally meets with Elinor Smith, an even younger, more eager aviatrix - what happens to her I wonder?

As Earhart and her navigator Noonan embark on their doomed flight, flashbacks highlight the events that got her there. (Christopher Eccleston, who plays Noonan, is excellent in his role). Those last 10 minutes or so of radio-communications loss, coinciding with the failure of the direction finding device, and the dawning awareness of disaster are honestly gripping.

But at the end of the day, confusing is the word that springs to mind. By the end of the film, I felt I actually knew less about her, rather than more...

As a matter of interest, much of the lighting, camera and grips equipment was sourced locally from Panalux, One8Six and Jens Bacher Gripping Solutions. The processing was done in Cape Town at Waterfront Post while Moonlighting's Genevieve Hofmeyr was the line producer.

Amelia's Lockheed Electra was flown into Rand Airport from France by the owner for the making of the movie and to double as the Lockheed Electra L10E which she flew in her ill-fated around-the-world record attempt.

Click here to read about the shooting of Amelia at the Rand Airport, in previous issue of In Focus.