THE THEORY OF FLIGHT
About The Production
Every once in a while fate brings together two people whose deficits are made whole by the other
Every once in a while fate brings together
two people whose deficits are made whole by the other. In The
Theory of Flight, a man who cannot face adult responsibility
meets a woman who will do anything to attain adult fulfillment.
Both are lost souls desperately seeking a means of escape, but
through one another they learn instead to soar.
This simple, emotionally charged tale of love, levity and gravity
was written by Richard Hawkins, who put his screenplay in a brown
paper envelope and sent it unsolicited to the BBC. There, it joined
thousands of others in the lingering slush pile - unlikely to
budge. But when director Paul Greengrass uncovered the project
and brought it to Academy Award®-nominated actors Helena Bonham
Carter and Kenneth Branagh, it almost instantaneously took off.
Both actors fell in love, not just with the story, but with the
two characters floundering, funny human beings seeking connection
and liberation amidst a most absurd and unusual set of obstacles.
"One of the reasons the script stood out among so many others
is that it was so different from anything else around. It's not
in the same gritty urban genre like Trainspotting or The
Full Monty that is associated with British films these days;
but it does sort of fit into another strain of British storytelling
- comical, whimsical tales of great eccentrics," explains
He continues: "It has an unexpected lightness and charm to
it, even though it's also full of a sort of underlying profundity.
On the one hand the script had the structure of a classic boy-meets-girl
romantic comedy, and on the other it presents you with the most
unlikely characters for a romantic comedy. It breaks taboos all
over the place about comedy and disability. That's what I liked
about it: it didn't do anything the way you would expect it. That
and it seemed to have a magical ability to enchant everyone who
came into contact with it."
At the center of the story's power is the character of Jane -
a young woman facing the disintegration of her body due to progressive
Motor Neuron Disease, known in the U.S. as amyotrophic lateral
sclerosis or ALS, by sharply honing her wit, directness and desires.
(ALS is a fatal nueromuscular disease, characterized by degeneration
of a select group of nerve cells and pathways in the brain and
spinal cord which lead to progressive paralysis of the muscles.
The mind is unaffected.) No ordinary person, Jane takes on the
world with a fierce attitude that thumbs its nose at her physical
trials. At 25 and still a virgin, she dreams about adventure,
friendship, love, sex and romance with a determination to match
any able-bodied woman. Helena Bonham Carter tackled the role with
an intensity unusual even for the actress known for her complex
performances - and brings to life a heroine who refuses to let
the world's timid view of her change her unique way of looking
at the world.
Helena Bonham Carter first read The Theory of Flight the
night before she was about to accept a very different role in
another film. "As I read on, I kept thinking 'I hope it won't
carry on being this good,"' she recalls, "but it did
and I felt very strongly from that moment forward that I really
wanted this part." Although used to demanding roles, Bonham
Carter knew she would have to recreate herself to tackle the quick-tongued
but ultimately inspirational Jane.
She continues: "There was nothing in my background as an
actress that would have suggested me
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