Hilary Swank may take to the skies


The New York Post‘s Page Six — and thus every other Hollywood gossip blog, so you might have already seen this — is reporting that Hilary Swank has accepted a role in an upcoming biopic of Amelia Earhart. Apparently, Swank made the announcement at a party for her Guerlain fragrance, My Insolence, when her people ducked out of the festivities to take the call.

I’m excited about the prospect of an Earhart movie — a story can’t get much more cinematic in scope — even if I’m a little ambivalent about the casting. Swank does look a little like Earhart:

And having Swank attached to the project is like announcing Oscar ambitions before the filming ever starts. But I don’t know; the movies she’s in are good (except for that one) but I can’t say I’ve loved any of them. And I really want to love this one.

I’ve always felt a little sorry for Earhart, and not just because she most likely crashed her plane and died. Like Kennedy, or Elvis, or any other famous person whose life ended in what could arguably be called questionable circumstances, she’s now more famous for her death rather than all of her amazing feats. What most people remember her for is the one thing she failed to do. That’s just sad.

Almost every on-screen portrayal of her life is obsessed with her disappearance. Other than a 1976 made-for-TV movie starring Susan Clark, the films about her life include Amelia Earhart: The Final Flight (a 1994 Diane Keaton project of which I have absolutely no memory) and documentaries with an obvious theme: Great Mysteries and Myths of the Twentieth Century, The Mysteries of Amelia Earhart and The Final Hours: Amelia Earhart’s Last Flight.

So it’s time Earhart’s life story was told; I just hope they do it right. “They,” according to ComingSoon.net lists, will be independent filmmakers, so I am both interested in what an indie approach might look like but also worried. I agree with Cinematical.com that this project deserves big-budget Hollywood treatment and promotion. Speaking of aviation movies, here’s a bit of lesbian related trivia. Jane Lynch played Earhart in The Aviator, but all of her scenes were cut. What’s up with that, Scorsese?

Certainly any Earhart film will have to deal with her disappearance, but I’m really hoping to see her presented as the unconventional hero that she was. This means showing the young Earhart who liked to “belly-slam” her snow sled and hunted rats with a .22. And I want to see the out-spoken adult Earhart, who accepted Congressional awards following her 1932 flight across the Atlantic, but felt the thing to be proud of was proving women’s equality with men in “jobs requiring intelligence, coordination, speed, coolness and willpower.” If nothing else, I’m hoping that casting someone with Swank’s resume signals that the project is headed this direction.

Although I do admit to curiosity about how they will end the thing. Will they simply leave her lost at sea? Or will they hint at some of the more exciting but fairly fringe theories about her death, like the one that she was a spy for Roosevelt and ended up a POW of the Japanese? As long as they pay attention to her life, I’ll be happy.

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