Photos courtesy of National Geographic
Modern aviation is often viewed as a necessary means to an end. Many people downright dread the whole process, but for those who can take the time to appreciate the magic of flight, “Living in the Age of Airplanes” is a must-see.
The National Geographic project was produced and directed by Brian J. Terwilliger, who is also known for the aviation film “One Six Right.” The producers filled every second of the 47 minutes of runtime with absolutely stunning cinematography, paired with majestic music tracks by Oscar-winning composer James Horner and narration by Harrison Ford. Yes — we get to listen to the pilot of the “Millennium Falcon” tell us about airplanes.
The show opened in the famous “Airplane Graveyard” in Mojave, California, with sad, parted-out Boeing 747s as Ford spoke about how air travel is now taken for granted. It has only been a little over 100 years since air travel became a thing for us, and no invention beside the use of electricity has changed our world more. But it is also sad to consider how these majestic metallic beasts have lifespans of only a couple of decades on average.
Another focus of the film is the importance of the global air cargo network. To demonstrate this, we see a bouquet of long-stemmed roses make its way from the grower in Kenya, to the wholesale market in Amsterdam, to a vase in Alaska in just over seventeen hours. We also see how our homes are a melting pot for produce, garments, and housewares from all over the globe.
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In the final scene, we’re given a look at our own perspective as travelers. When we fly, we often sit there without realizing we’re going anywhere, Ford says. But taking a look out the window, from 35,000 feet, we see more of our Earth in one glance than most of our ancestors saw in their whole life. This window seat perspective is what I love most about aviation. There are so many awful, divisive things going on in out world right now, that flying seven miles over it all is quite a wonderful escape sometimes.
The cinematography of the film is nothing short of spectacular. This alone makes the film worth seeing. All travelers should see this film. It is appropriate for all audiences, from interested kids to the jaded million-mile flyers.
“Living in the Age of Airplanes” will be available on iTunes, Amazon, Blu-Ray ($29.95) and DVD ($24.95) on Tuesday, Oct. 25. The video release also includes over 40 minutes of special features. It has been running on museum IMAX screens around the country since the summer of 2015, but if you haven’t seen it, now is your chance. And you should see it.