“I don’t think I’ve ever felt anything quite as delightful as seeing that balloon fly for the first time,” reveals “The Aeronauts” director Tom Harper, and for good reason. A 80-feet-tall, 826-pound, gas-powered hot air balloon was constructed for the production, the making of which is detailed in a new behind-the-scenes featurette, “Building the Mammoth.” Watch the exclusive video above.
The Amazon release tells the amazing true story of scientist James Glashier (Eddie Redmayne) and pilot Amelia Wren (Felicity Jones), who in 1862 took flight in a hot air balloon called the “Mammoth.” “Tom’s intent from the beginning was to make sure that the experience of this movie was one that put the audience inside the basket,” explains producer Todd Lieberman. Because of this, it was important to replicate the massive craft, creating what was “basically one of the first of its kind since the mid-1800s.”
There were, of course, several challenges, chief among them “the sheer size and weight that we’ve ended up with,” divulges Colin Prescott, who served as the Balloon Coordinator.
But the ends justified the means, as the stars can attest. “So much of the film is the two of us in this tiny space,” states Redmayne. So the balloon had to be “the other character.” The Oscar-winning actor (Best Actor for “The Theory of Everything” in 2013) looks at both the film and the making of it as a testament to ingenuity. “We live in a time in which we’re being almost encouraged and forced to look down, to look inward,” he adds, “and this is a story about dreaming to look upwards.”
Jones agrees, saying “The ‘Mammoth’ is a symbol of hope, so it felt like a very relevant film to be making, one of optimism and the feeling that anything is possible.” The actress, who costarred with Redmayne in “The Theory of Everything” (for which she earned a Best Actress Oscar nomination), describes the craft as “majestic” and “beautiful to look at,” not to mention a singular experience to act in.
Audiences can check out the “Mammoth” for themselves when “The Aeronauts” hits theaters on December 6 before making its way to Amazon Prime on December 20.
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