On July 2, 1937, aviator Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, took off from the island of Lae in the Pacific Ocean and disappeared forever. Earhart’s legend endures because of the mystery of her death, but Amelia Earhart — Queen of the Air focuses on her life.
This 45-minute portrait of the famed aviator was made in 1996 for the Biography Channel. Its release on DVD coincides with the video release of the widely-panned 2009 biopic, Amelia.
Queen of the Air?
Amelia Earhart is presented here as a creature of celebrity culture. In 1928, she became the first woman to cross the Atlantic Ocean by airplane. Though Earhart was a licensed pilot, she was only a passenger on that flight (Earhart would complete a solo transatlantic flight in 1932). Nonetheless, her gender turned her into a celebrity.
Publicist George Putnam, whom she would later marry, took charge of Earhart’s career. Lecture tours, books and product endorsements would follow. She would also use her celebrity status to advocate for women’s rights. “She may not have been the greatest female pilot of her day, but she was by far the most charismatic,” says host Jack Perkins. The video ends with a brief summary of theories about her final crash, but wisely declines to speculate about her fate.
The documentary has a mix of archival photos and footage, as well as interviews with those who knew her. It’s a standard made-for-television production, and at only 45 minutes, the story is concise and focused. It’s a good introduction to the life of an extraordinary woman, and a good alternative to last year’s theatrical movie.
There are no bonus features on this DVD.
Picture and Sound
About what you’d expect for a made-for-tv production.