Howard Hughes is one of the most iconic characters of the 20th century and the director Martin Scorsese also made himself into an icon when he produced this masterpiece of his film career ‘The Aviator’. The film is a biographical sketch of Hughes (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) who is now one of the most influential individuals ever to exist in the history of aviation.
Howard Hughes was also a film maker in his time and the movie begins with his 22-year old aspirations to direct Hell's Angels. Hiring Noah Dietrich (played by John C. Reilly) Howard Hughes oversees the flight sequences for his first film and becomes obsessed with shooting the film in a realistic way.
Hell's Angels was a huge hit but Howard Hughes was widely seen as an eccentric millionaire with no real sense of reality in his own life. During his life, he also pursued the actress Katharine Hepburn (played by Cate Blanchett) and eventually began to struggle more seriously with the symptoms of an obsessive-compulsive disorder. Kate Beckinsale also plays a love interest of Hughes as the beautiful Ava Gardner. As his fame grows, he becomes more troubled, at one point becoming romantically involved with a 15 year old girl (played by Kelli Garner).
In 1935, a test flight of the H-1 Racer crashed into a beet field and Hughes was almost killed. In another flight, one of the propellers malfunctioned and the plane crashed into a Beverly Hills neighborhood. Hughes went on, however, to fly around the world in four days and to shatter the previous world record.
By 1946, Hughes had begun building the H-4 Hercules also known as the ‘Spruce Goose’ and had begun showing signs of alarming behavior as well as exhibiting an extreme phobia. He sunk into a deep depression and eventually shut himself into a hotel screening room where he grew ever more paranoid and detached from reality.
Director Martin Scorsese finally presents Howard Hughes as a triumphant hero and a trail blazer in the history of aeronautics. Still, the viewer is left to wonder about the true fate of this troubled genius.
The Aviator is truly a movie making masterpiece on the part of Martin Scorsese and should not be missed. As the film ends, we all may wonder about the fate of Howard Hughes and his hauntingly repetitive chant; "the way of the future... the way of the future".