Inspired by the famous balloon expedition made by British aeronaut and meteorologist, James Glaisher, in 1862, ‘The Aeronauts’, is essentially a movie about reaching new heights – in more ways than one. The biographical adventure drama, set in Victorian England, is directed by Tom Harper of ‘Wild Rose’ and ‘Peaky Blinders’ fame. It also has ‘The Theory of Everything’ co-stars, Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones, reuniting as the lead pair.
The story of ‘The Aeronauts’ centres around the adventures of headstrong scientist James Glaisher (Redmayne), and the dynamic but fictional aeronaut, Amelia Wren (Jones), as they embark on an ambitious and enterprising voyage that would break records and make history.
Loosely based on Richard Holmes’ Falling Upwards: How We Took to the Air, the movie has Glaisher teaming up with a courageous widow balloonist, Wren, in an attempt to make scientific discoveries and advance the meteorological knowledge of the time. It ultimately becomes a journey about self-discovery as the pair flies higher than anyone else in history, fighting for their survival as they face life-threatening challenges.
‘The Aeronauts’ is most certainly a spectacular visual treat. The movie’s visuals have been praised by audience and critics alike – for the way it’s been shot, its mesmerizing special effects, its old-world charm, and, of course, the amazing chemistry between the lead pair. It takes you up in the clouds and gives to you a grand view, both literally and otherwise, as it celebrates old adventure tales, and the quest for discovery. If you too were captivated by ‘The Aeronauts’ scenic visuals and want to know more about where they were shot, you’re definitely at the right place.
The Aeronauts Filming Locations
‘The Aeronauts’, being based on the scientific expeditions of the nineteenth century, makes use of some of the most enchanting locations in England due to their relevant histories and picturesque Victorian architecture. Staying true to Glaisher’s roots, some of the scenes in the movie were shot in Greenwich, while many of the movie’s key balloon scenes were actually shot on a real hot-air balloon for authenticity. Read on for more information on the locations used in the film.
The Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, England
Greenwich was the place where real-life meteorologist James Glaisher spent over thirty-four years of his life serving as Superintendent of the Department of Meteorology and Magnetism at the Royal Observatory. So what better place for shooting some of the movie’s most crucial scenes than at the magnificent Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich?
Being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it has one of the finest and most dramatic architecture in England, and has regularly appeared on the screen with shows and movies like ‘The Crown’, ‘The Golden Compass’, ‘Les Miserables’ etc. It is on the south bank of River Thames, and has the Royal Observatory towards its right. Several of the film’s Royal Society scenes have been shot here, along with the scene around the colonnades, where Amelia is shown asking for Glaisher only to be told that women are not allowed in the Society premises. ‘The Aeronauts’ also features other places from Greenwich in some of its other scenes.
Along with this, the location for some of the other Royal Society scenes, like the meeting room where Glaisher discusses his findings, was shot in Oxford’s Bodleian Library.
Chatham Historic Dockyard, Kent, England
The Balloon Factory in ‘The Aeronauts’, where Amelia works is shot in the Slip 3 Mezzanine at the Historic Dockyard in Chatham, making it one of the primary locations in the film. Scenes where Amelia shows her sister and nieces around the Dockyard, as well as the scene where Glaisher comes to the Balloon Factory to check on the progress of the Mammoth were shot here.
“When presented with a brief to find a balloon factory location, there was really no other choice than The Historic Dockyard in Chatham… There are very few places left with an authentic Georgian timber structure that have stood the test of time.” stated Christian Huband, the Production Designer of ‘The Aeronauts’ in an interview.
West London Film Studios, Hayes, England
Most of the movie’s key balloon scenes were shot in West London Film Studios, where the team built a real balloon that flew between 2,000 to 8,000 feet in the air. Many of the film’s scenes were shot with the actors and stunt people inside, while Harper watched and supervised from a helicopter. This was not only a physically and mentally excruciating process but also an immensely exhausting one as it took over eight weeks to be filmed. This, mixed with the terrific special effects used in ‘The Aeronauts’, is the reason for the movie’s incredibly captivating visuals.
Amelia Wren’s family home in the movie was shot at Hatfield House’s Library in Hertfordshire, which has previously appeared in ‘The Crown’. The Jacobean house was built in 1611, and is a major tourist attraction and has also featured in films like ‘Batman’, ‘Sherlock Holmes’, ‘V for Vendetta’, among several others. In ‘The Aeronauts’, Hatfield House’s Library is shown in the scene where Amelia’s relatives wait for the news on the Mammoth’s flight.
The Fair in the movie, from where the Mammoth is actually launched, was shot on the extensive grounds of Wrotham Park, near Hertfordshire. Other scenes of the launch were shot around Regent’s Park, in London. In real life though, the Mammoth was launched from Wolverhampton as it was a safer choice as compared to London because of its proximity to water.
Along with these locations, some other important locations included Claydon House in Buckinghamshire where the Ball takes place in the movie, and the Brompton Cemetery in West London, where Amelia visits her husband’s grave in a flashback scene. In case you haven’t yet witnessed the old-world charm of ‘The Aeronauts’, please don’t miss it.
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