Resolution: A Portrait of Amelia Earhart (2012) – By Philip Smolen

This 36 minute short attempts to portray the woman behind the myth of Amelia Earhart, one of America’s most famous heroes. Through newsreel footage, narration, and reenactments, director David Dietz tries to present a fresh perspective.

The film begins at a city museum dedicated to its veterans, where an elderly woman (Ina Block) speaks to the curator (director Dietz) about heroes. From there, the narrator (Tiffany Apan) takes us through some of the highlights in Amelia’s life. These include her discussions with fellow aviator Helen Ritchie about starting an all women-pilot airline, her 1935 flight from Hawaii to California where she needed to make a public statement to the newspapers to fight untrue rumors, and her time at Purdue University where she held three positions.

Deitz’s movie is an admirable attempt to humanize a great and daring American, but its execution doesn’t match its intent. It’s clear from the reenactments that Amelia truly wanted women to break out of their traditional roles. But I wanted Dietz to delve deeper into her relationship with her husband George Putnam (Christopher Kirsch). From the scenes here, they seem more like business partners, and I wasn’t able to feel the connection between them. I also wanted to know more about the intensive government effort to search for Amelia once she went missing. This is only briefly mentioned.

Deitz’s reenactments should complement the documentary footage and draw you in, but instead they are jarring and ultimately, frustrating. Just as we are getting comfortable learning about Earhart from the narrator, Dietz switches gears and offers up another reenactment. And just as we begin to settle in with the reenactment, we go back to documentary footage.

Most of the actors are weak in their roles. As Amelia, Kathy Rentz looks the part, but doesn’t get into Amelia’s character enough. She’s bland. This makes her forgettable, which is a no-no when dealing with an historical giant like Amelia Earhart. Also disappointing is Christopher Kirsch, who fails to show the love and devotion that George Putnam must have had for Amelia. Only the late Bill Zaeh as President Franklin D. Roosevelt brings any life to his role. He adequately captures some of FDR’s mannerisms and does look rather presidential.

“Resolution: A Portrait of Amelia Earhart” is an earnest effort, and Dietz should be commended for trying to do something different. However, the film is likely to interest only those who are either aviation or Amelia Earhart buffs. Unfortunately, that severely limits its appeal.

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