Probably not of the same brilliance as some of Scorsese’s earlier masterpieces. All the same it’s an entertaining ride and an interesting biopic of one of the 20th century’s most fascinating individuals, Howard Hughes. Even if you like me knew next to nothing about Hughes, it’s a fun watch.
Was Howard Hughes a genius or a madman? You can argue in both directions. He was incredibly wealthy, impulsive, reckless, flirtatious, and in later years, eccentric and reclusive. What would you do with a fortune? In Howard Hughes case he decides to make movies, which would become among the most expensive, controversial and ambitious of the 1930s. He produced the original Scarface (1932), Hughes battled with censor boards over the violence.
Scorsese’s film may resurrect interest in some of Hughes’ previous work, I definitely want to catch the war epic Hells Angels (1930), after watching the making of it during The Aviator.
Hughes was a flying enthusiast, a pioneer of human aviation, risking his life by opting to fly experimental airplanes himself. Even after plan crashes, he still continued to want to build planes and be a pilot.
Its tough for me to comment on the performances, as I am not terribly familiar with the real life Howard Hughes, depicted here by long time Scorsese collaborator Leonardo DiCaprio. I have not viewed enough of the movies of the real Katharine Hepburn (played by Cate Blanchett) to really say if she behaves like that. Then again, we mostly see Katharine Hepburn’s private life, so maybe comparing is only possible for her family and friends.
What I can say is I found the Ava Gardner character to be under-developed, not enough screen time, we never really discover why they were attracted to one another in the first place, which is a pity. In comparison, Katharine Hepburn’s romantic involvement with Howard Hughes was far more interesting and gave an insight into how these two big celebrities of the past met and spent time together. I was never bored, despite the running time clocking in at whopping two hours and forty-six minutes. Perhaps they should have shortened the film by cutting out Ava Gardner?
The huge budget is all up there on the screen, technically impressive, with giant sets and huge airplane action scenes. A film worth watching once, but I don’t think it holds up to many viewings unless you are particularly interested in the era it depicts. I would have liked to know a bit more about why Howard Hughes wanted to lock himself away at times, and other times wanted to date the Hollywood stars, the film doesn’t really address why Hughes behaviour was so polarized? As another reviewer points out, Scorsese clearly is on Howard Hughes’ side in the movie, particularly in the court case battles. Scorsese’s mission as a director appears to be to celebrate the guy.
Any thoughts on The Aviator (2004) ? This review today brings to a close my recent Scorsese blogathon, hope you enjoyed reading! Are you interested in other director blogathons of this nature on my site in future?