Amelia Earhart and her plane "Old Bessie"

Amelia Earhart and her plane "Old Bessie"

While on a recent adventure, I saw the new film Amelia, all about the life of Amelia Earhart, an amazing, pioneering female aviator who captured the attention of the nation and the world before her 1937 disappearance in the midst of an around-the-world flight. While I’m glad I saw the movie, I have to say that I was disappointed. As so many mainstream films do, especially when women are the main characters, it seemed to unfortunately overemphasize her romantic entanglements. From what I’ve been told of Amelia Earhart’s life, there are myriad aspects that could have been expanded upon—and all for the purpose of more compelling storytelling. I would have loved to see more of her childhood and gotten a clearer vision of where her love of flying and her independent spirit stemmed from and how they took root. I would have loved to have a more nuanced sense of the role her family played in her life and the effect that they had on her—good and bad—more than the few throwaway lines that were mentioned. I would have loved to get a wider view of the professional work that she was up to and her work with the Ninety-Nines, a group of women aviators that still exists today. And if you’re going to spend all that time concentrating on her romantic relationships, I would have liked to see some development of their foundation so that when they’re being played out on screen, I actually am emotionally invested in them. Whether it was acting chemistry that was off or whether there just wasn’t enough introduction or set-up, I wasn’t pulled in by either of the romantic story lines, which made the focus on them even less tolerable.

There was one moment in the film that actually had emotional resonance and stuck with me: Amelia is flying solo across the Atlantic, and it seems as if she’s not sure she’s going to make it. The look on her face as she finally sees land, all the emotions conveyed in a series of seconds—relief, joy, amazement—that whole sequence was really well done.

So why am I glad that I saw the movie? I think it gave me a small taste of Amelia, and despite its flaws (perhaps in part because of them) made me eager to learn more about her, to gain a fuller picture of her life and all that it contained. I’d like to seek out more well-rounded and richer accounts of her life and work. Any suggestions for further Amelia reading/viewing? And if you’ve seen the movie, what’s your take?

Feel free to check out the film, the official Amelia Earhart site, and the Amelia Wikipedia page (which includes theories on her disappearance).