|Internet Movie Database entry 0338751|
John C. Reilly
Charles Evans, Jr.
|Art Director:||[Dante Ferretti]|
Buena Vista Distribution
Latin America/Australia theatrical
USA/Latin America/Australia DVD
20th Century Fox
|Released:|| 17 December 2004 (premiere)|
19 December, 2004 (premiere)
25 December 2004
10 February 2005
The Aviator (2004) is an American biographical drama film, directed by Martin Scorsese and based on the life of Howard Hughes. It tells the story of the eccentric aviation pioneer, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, following Hughes' life from the late 1920s through the 1940s, a time when he was directing and producing Hollywood movies as well as test-piloting his own groundbreaking new aircraft. The film also illustrates Hughes' descent into severe obsessive-compulsive disorder and reclusiveness.
The Aviator has no opening credits other than the title. The film begins in 1914 with nine-year-old Hughes being bathed by his mother, who warns him of disease: "You are not safe."
The film next shows him in 1927, as a 22-year old preparing to direct Hell's Angels. Hiring Noah Dietrich (John C. Reilly) to run Hughes Tool Co, while he oversees the flight sequences for the film, Hughes becomes obsessed with shooting the film realistically, even re-shooting the dogfight himself. By 1929, with the film finally complete, when The Jazz Singer is released, Hughes re-shoots the film for sound, costing another year and $1.7 million. Nevertheless, Hell's Angels is a huge hit, and Hughes makes Scarface and The Outlaw. However, there is one goal he relentlessly pursues: aviation. During this time, he also pursues Katharine Hepburn (Cate Blanchett). The two go to nightclubs, play golf and fly together, and as they grow closer, move in together as well. During this time Hepburn becomes a major support and confidant to Hughes, and helps alleviate the symptoms of his obsessive-compulsive disorder. As Hughes' fame grows, he is seen with more starlets.
Hughes takes an interest in commercial-passenger travel, and purchases majority interest in Transcontinental & Western Air (TWA), the predecessor to Trans World Airlines. In 1935, he test flies the H-1 Racer but crashes in a beet field; "Fastest man on the planet," he boasts to Hepburn. Three years later, he flies around the world in four days, shattering the previous record by three days. Meanwhile, Juan Trippe (Alec Baldwin), owner of Pan American Airlines, and Senator Owen Brewster (Alan Alda) worry over the possibility that Hughes might beat them in the quest for commercial expansion. Brewster has just introduced the Commercial Airline Bill, which will give world expansion solely to Pan Am. Trippe advises Brewster to check to the "disquieting rumors about Mr. Hughes."
Hepburn and Hughes eventually break up when she announces that she has fallen in love with her movie costar (although he is briefly seen but never clearly stated, the viewers already know that the costar is her would be life-long partner Spencer Tracy).
He soon has a new interest: 15-year old Faith Domergue (Kelli Garner) and later, Ava Gardner (Kate Beckinsale). He also fights the Motion Picture Association of America over the steamy scenes in The Outlaw. He learns of Pan Am's efforts to run TWA off the map yet secures contracts with the Army Air Force on two projects, a spy plane and a troop transport. By 1946, Hughes has only finished the XF-11 reconnaissance aircraft and is building the H-4 Hercules ("Spruce Goose") flying boat.
With the strain of meeting deadlines and budgets, Hughes starts to show signs of alarming behavior, repeating phrases over and over and exhibiting a phobia over dust and germs. That July, he takes the XF-11 for a test flight. One of the propellers malfunctions, causing a crash in a Beverly Hills neighborhood. Rushed to the hospital, he slowly recuperates but learns the H-4 Hercules transport is no longer needed but orders production to continue. When he is discharged, the whole TWA fleet is built and ready to go, but he is in danger of being bankrupted by the airline and his flying boat.
Afraid of the media trying to find him, Hughes places microphones and taps Ava's phone lines to keep track of any suspicious activity. After being confronted by Gardner, he returns home to find the FBI searching his house for incriminating evidence that he embezzled government funds. The incident is both a powerful trauma for Hughes and gives his enemies knowledge about his condition. Hughes meets with Brewster, who offers to drop the charges if Hughes supports the CAB Bill and sells the TWA stock to Trippe. Hughes sinks into a deep depression afterwards, shutting himself in his screening room, growing ever more paranoid and detached from reality; terrified of germs, he urinates into dozens of empty milk bottles. Hepburn tries to visit him, but is unable to help. Trippe then pays Hughes a visit, but an enraged Hughes vows he will never sell TWA. Trippe warns Dietrich that the world will see what Hughes has become if he goes to the Hearings. After nearly three months, Hughes finally emerges and prepares to face the Senate, with encouragement from Ava Gardner, who helps him get cleaned up.
Hughes arrives at the hearings, and starts off with counter-claiming Brewster's charges: "Why not tell the truth, Senator? Why not tell the truth that this investigation was really born on the day that TWA first decided to fly to Europe?" Humiliated and enraged by this turn of events, Brewster formally states that Hughes charged the Defense Department $56 million for aircraft that never flew. Hughes defends himself and reveals that Trippe essentially bribed Brewster to hold the hearings.
Hughes successfully test flies the flying boat himself. After the flight, he talks to Dietrich and his mechanic Odie (Matt Ross) about a new jetliner for TWA (The Convair 880 Coronado) and makes a date with Gardner at a celebration party on the Long Beach shoreline. Hughes seems free of his inner demons until he sees three attendants in business suits and white gloves edging towards him, which triggers an obsessive-compulsive fit as he begins repeating "The way of the future." Dietrich and Odie take Hughes in a bathroom and hide him there, while Dietrich fetches a doctor and Odie stands outside guarding the door. Alone inside, Howard has a flashback to his boyhood, being washed by his mother and resolving he will fly the fastest aircraft ever built, make the biggest movies ever and become the richest man in the world. As the film ends he mutters "the way of the future... the way of the future" into a darkened mirror.
As appearing in screen credits (main roles identified):
|Leonardo DiCaprio||Howard Hughes|
|Cate Blanchett||Katharine Hepburn|
|Kate Beckinsale||Ava Gardner|
|John C. Reilly||Noah Dietrich|
|Alec Baldwin||Juan Trippe|
|Alan Alda||Senator Owen Brewster|
|Ian Holm||Professor Fitz|
|Danny Huston||Jack Frye|
|Gwen Stefani||Jean Harlow|
|Jude Law||Errol Flynn|
|Adam Scott||Johnny Meyer|
|Matt Ross||Glen "Odie" Odekirk|
|Kelli Garner||Faith Domergue|
|Frances Conroy||Katharine Houghton Hepburn|
|Brent Spiner||Robert E. Gross|
|Stanley DeSantis||Louis B. Mayer|
|Edward Herrmann||Joseph I. Breen|
|Willem Dafoe||Roland Sweet|
For the first 50 minutes of the film, scenes appear in shades of only red and cyan blue; green objects are rendered as blue. This was done, according to Scorsese, to emulate the look of early two-color movies, in particular the Multicolor process, which Hughes himself owned. Many of the scenes depicting events occurring after 1935 are treated to emulate the saturated appearance of three-strip Technicolor. Other scenes were stock footage colorized and incorporated into the film. The color effects were created by Legend Films.
In Aviator, scale models were used to duplicate many of the flying scenes. When Martin Scorsese began planning his aviation epic, a decision was made to film flying sequences with scale models rather than CGI special effects. The critical reaction to the CGI models in Pearl Harbor (2001) had been a crucial factor in Scorsese's decision to use full-scale static models and scale models in this case. The building and filming of the flying models proved both cost-effective and timely. 
The primary scale models were the Spruce Goose and the F-11; both miniatures were designed and fabricated over a period of several months by New Deal Studios.  The 375 lb Spruce Goose model had a wingspan of 20 ft while the 750 lb XF-11 had a 25 ft wingspan. Each was built as a motion control miniature used for "beauty shots" of the model taking off and in flight as well as in dry dock and under construction at the miniature Hughes Hangar built as well by New Deal Studios. The XF-11 was reverse engineered from photographs and some rare drawings and then modeled in Rhino 3d by the New Deal art department. These 3d models of the Spruce Goose as well as the XF-11 were then used for patterns and construction drawings for the model makers. In addition to the aircraft, the homes that the XF-11 crashes into were fabricated at 1:4 scale to match the 1:4 scale XF-11. The model was rigged to be crashed and break up several times for different shots.
Additional castings of the Spruce Goose flying boat and XF-11 models were provided for new radio controlled flying versions assembled by the team of model builders from Aero Telemetry.  The Aero Telemetry team was given only three months to complete three models including the 18 ft wingspan, 450 lb H-1 Racer, that had to stand-in for the full scale replica that was destroyed in a crash, shortly before principal photography began. 
The models were shot on location at Long Beach and other California sites from helicopter or raft platforms. The short but much heralded flight of Hughes’ HK-1 Hercules on 2 November 1947 was realistically recreated in Long Beach Harbor. The motion control Spruce Goose and Hughes Hangar miniatures built by New Deal Studios are presently on display at the Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville, Oregon, with the original Hughes HK-1 "Spruce Goose".
The film had several distributors worldwide. For example, it was distributed in the U.S. (theatrical), UK, and Germany by Miramax Films, and in Latin America, Australia, and on U.S. DVD by Warner Bros. Pictures.
The film received highly positive reviews with the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reporting that 180 out of the 203 reviews they tallied were positive for a score of 89 percent and certification of fresh. At another review aggregator site Metacritic, the film scored a 77 average out of 100, based on 41 reviews. The film grossed $102 million at the U.S. box office and $111 million at the foreign box office. Film critic Roger Ebert, described the film and its subject Howard Hughes in these terms:
|USA||U.S. Dollar||US$ 102,610,330 (48.0%)|
|Other||U.S. Dollar||US$ 111,131,129 (52.0%)|
|World||U.S. Dollar||US$ 213,741,459|
The film was released in DVD in a two-disc-set in widescreen and full screen versions. The first disc includes commentary with director Martin Scorsese. The second disc includes "The Making of The Aviator," "Deleted Scenes" as well as 11 other special features.
See main article: List of awards won by The Aviator.
|Academy Awards record|
|1. Supporting Actress (Cate Blanchett)|
|4. Art Direction|
|5. Costume Design|
|Golden Globe Awards record|
|1. Picture - Drama|
|2. Drama Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio)|
|3. Original Score|
|BAFTA Awards record|
|2. Supporting Actress (Cate Blanchett)|
|3. Production Design|