Monday, October 24, 2016

Films of 2016: "Sully," A Real Hero


There's a moment in Sully (based on the true story of flight captain Chelsey "Sully" Sullenberger and the safe-landing of U.S. Airways Flight 1549 in January 2009, in what became known as the "Miracle on the Hudson," resulting in the survival of all 155 passengers and crew on board) where one character says, in the aftermath of said event, "It's been a while since New York has news this good, especially with an airplane." Truth be told, 9/11 and this event were two headlined events in New York in the past decade. And while they were ultimately unexpected, both displayed signs of hope and courage because of those who made a difference in saving lives.
                                                                                 
And while the new film, masterfully directed by Clint Eastwood, recreates this event (seen from different points-of-view throughout, with IMAX cameras), it also chronicles the investigation that took place in the aftermath. From the view of members of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), computer simulations that recreated the flight indicated Sully would have (and should have) made it back to the nearest dock. This leads Sully (the always-up-to-it everyman Tom Hanks), who apparently suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, to question if he carried out the right actions in what he described as "a forced water landing." He also contemplates the consequences that could come, not to mention the alternatives of what could have happened. (A few brief moments reveal 9/11-esque imagery.) As Sully states, despite his forty years of experience as a pilot, "In the end, I'm only going to be judged on 208 seconds [from the moment the plane lost both engines to when we actually landed]."

Tom Hanks and Aaron Eckhart
Yet, halfway through the film, we get a perspective from that of the passengers aboard the flight that day, as well as from Air Traffic Control and first responders on the bay area. With that in mind, Sully showcases the definition of what it means to be a hero, including the actions and choices carried out in the process. Whether it's getting the job done, highlighting experience and instinct over numbers, or recognizing the role of humanity, Sully clarifies his role as somebody who was simply "doing his job". 

Sully, "a real hero"
In fact, during the hearings, Sully notes that the NTSB has "not taken into account the human factor." Sully even states that it wasn't a singular "miracle" (meaning that not one person was involved in saving everybody on board), but a collaborative one. To reiterate, "We [just] did our job." That being said, another thing Eastwood's film does really well (despite its 90-minute running time, which some may criticize) is that ordinary people can still do heroic things.

WRITER'S NOTE: The following track from 2010, by electronic bands College and Electric Youth, was partly inspired by the real-life events of this film. 


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