"The Aviator" (2004) - Sam Gall's Movie Review Issue #15 Gem Mint 10.0

Updated: Sep 17, 2020

THE AVIATOR (2004) directed by Martin Scorsese

"A biopic depicting the early years of legendary Director and aviator Howard Hughes' career from the late 1920s to the mid 1940s."

You might like this if you like: Martin Scorsese (though most Scorsese fans I talk to have NOT seen this one so maybe not, sorry, it doesn’t have gangsters and guns), a love of 20’s, 30s & 40s cinema, Howard Hughes, aviation, biopics, Leonardo DiCaprio (some people will just watch movies for him, and I don’t blame you)

I discovered the “The Aviator” at a very dark time around the age of 19 or 20. For the first time in my life, I questioned if movies were for me. If anything was really worth it anymore. Feeling lost. Hope was an alien to me. And somehow, probably amongst my Scorsese obsession, I went back and found “The Aviator”. With not a single damn interest in planes or aviation… I went for it. And without really knowing anything about this film going in I was pleasantly surprised to discover this film was a beautiful love letter to cinema. It reminded why I loved movies. It sparked that joy and passion I had been missing for the past few months all over again. It was pure cinema. Pure joy. Pure me.

Leonardo DiCaprio on the set of "The Aviator" (2004)

The Aviator” sent me back down the rabbit hole of film studies I created for myself and started writing everything I could about it. I devoured the special features and listened to the Blu-Ray commentary. This film alone was like an entire year of film school to me. I dissected it and tried to let it teach me as much about cinema as I possibly could because Scorsese gave us so f*cking much in that film that no one could possibly digest it all in one sitting. This film was on replay for days after I saw it. Ironically, like Howard Hughes, I locked myself in my room for days with a projector playing “The Aviator” over and over again… reading everything I could about it and then writing and writing about cinema. It made me love movies again. It made me love life again. It made me love myself again.

Matt Ross (left), Leonardo DiCaprio (middle) & John C. Reilly (right) in "The Aviator" (2004)

This film is romantically epic. Again, a love letter to all the pictures before it. Leonardo DiCaprio should have won 10 f*cking Oscars for this performance and then thrown them back at the Academy for not giving him 11. The cast in this are incredible. The characters they play are an even more outstanding ensemble of just pure, rich cinema history. It’s about 100 film history lessons rolled into one movie and I feel like I still haven’t scratched the surface. Cate Blanchett as Katharine Hepburn, Kate Beckinsale as Ava Gardner and you get the wonderful John C. Reilly, Alec Baldwin, Alan Alda, Ian Holm, Jude Law, Gwen Stefani and so many more… it’s crazy.

Cate Blanchett in "The Aviator" (2004)

You get the beautiful cinematography by Robert Richardson and a wonderful score by Howard Shore though I was swept away by the SOUNDTRACK for this film. I absolutely fell in love with the songs chosen for this film. It sent me on a musical history binge. The production design, the VFX, the costumes are just batsh*t crazy good. To create that time in history… THOSE times… It’s absolutely stunning to see.

Leonardo DiCaprio (left) & John C. Reilly (right) "The Aviator" (2004)

Now I don’t expect this film to do what it did for me for everyone else… Being someone who fell in love with movies, was heartbroken in his personal life, then questioned if even movies were worth it… this cinematic masterpiece picked me back up off the ground and reminded me why I was even standing in the first place. I hope this can bring some old movie lovers some joy. It’s in my top 5 favorite films of all time… Favorite Scorsese picture by far. Leo performance by far. One of my favorite soundtracks. A powerful, tragic, inspiring, rich and beautiful human story. A biopic meant for filmmakers. This movie has the potential to teach you so much about film if you let it.. Or maybe it won’t. But it saved my life. And I wanted to share this story, this film and what it meant to me and what it still means to me.

Written by Sam Gall on 04/06/20

CGC Grading: Gem Mint 10.0

Trailer for "The Aviator" (2004):

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