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There is no doubting the fact that television has been the primary source of entertainment for several decades, but that is not it’s most important purpose, long before live streaming on the internet television brought historical moments directly to our living rooms. I watched live as Jack Ruby shot and killed Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas, Texas. I sat in awe as I witnessed Neil Armstrong became the first man to step foot on the moon. On January 15, 2009, I tuned into the local news station, NY1 and saw a commercial jet floating in the Hudson River. Unlike the other examples just cited that was a location I have frequently seen looking out an office window. It was such a surreal image, one that I’ll always remember. The jet was there because of the incredible skill and ability to act in a situation never anticipated. Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, the pilot of a routine US Airway passenger flight, achieved an emergency landing in the river after the catastrophic failure of both engines. The last time that news station had a live feed to an incident involving a jet crashing was devastating to the nation; this was a moment to rejoice in heroism. As with any film that alleges it depicts real events the historical accuracy as depicted in this movie must be taken with a grain of salt. Lamentably, in this instance, the amount of salt required is significantly more than a grain. Considering the events portrayed here only seven years in the past the audience not to expect greater adherence to the facts. I understand that the filmmaker has to exert some dramatic license to create a narrative that is coherent as well as entertaining. I would think that a pilot landing a rather large passenger jet safely in the middle of the river would carry your sufficient drama but largely unnecessary contrivances we used to drive the plot. The film detailing this remarkable event, ‘Sully,' represents a collaboration one of Hollywood’s best directors one of their best actors.

Clint Eastwood has been entertaining audiences for over 60 years. As an actor, he conquered such genres as the western, both on television and film, crime drama, and war movies. It is a running joke that every actor wants to be a director, but you have been successful in the transition as Mr. Eastwood. Currently, have over 35 films where he sat in the director’s chair. During the segment of his career, he has some Academy Award nominations including the distinction of being the only man ever to be nominated for both best director and best doctor in the same film. Such a remarkable career I was disappointed in the deviation from the truth that became the underlying theme of the movie. From the start of the movie the principal source of drama restriction between the National Transportation Safety Board, NTSB, and Captain Sullenberger. The position of this critical review board was that Captain Sullenberger still had a partially functional engine and could have left him with enough power to return to LaGuardia or make a more traditional landing at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey. It was the contention of the Captain and his First Officer Jeff Skiles (Aaron Eckhart) that both engines were completely inoperable and they had neither the time nor momentum to make such a change in a course required for an airport landing.

Within the context of the film the NTSB in reviewing data from the ACARS, the Aircraft Communications Addressing, and Reporting, a data link system between the aircraft and ground stations, indicated that the port engine was still running in idle mode. The destruction of both engines occurred when a flock of Canadian geese crashed into the turbines. Sullenberger and Skiles, obviously with there, having felt the birds hit and the engines fail, both men had decades of experience and never wavered from contradicting the data analysis. It was the contention of the movie that Captain Sullenberger had PTSD, plagued by nightmares that included images of him crashing the plane into a building in Manhattan. Admittedly I did not read the autobiography, ‘Highest Duty,' used as the basis for the script so I cannot authoritatively speak to the veracity of this claim. However, it is not unrealistic to accept this as true. Captain Sullenberger was involved in most aspects of the production, and I’m reasonably confident that this plot point received his consent left me baffled as to why he would agree on the depiction of such animosity on the part of the NTSB.

The undisputed facts that included in the movie included the aircraft was an Airbus A320, a medium-size commercial airliner. The bird strike occurred three minutes into the flight at an altitude of 2,800 feet. The eventual recovery of the port engine from the bottom of the Hudson River proved it had been damaged severely and completely inoperable. The board of inquiry conducted several simulations testing the hypothesis that the plane was able to either return LaGuardia or safely make it to Teterboro. Captain Sullenberger demanded that he be allowed to watch the simulations, which was within his rights and granted. According to the simulations, you would’ve been able to land even without power safely. Captain Sullenberger made note that there were several deficiencies in the construction of those simulations. The pilot standing in for Sullenberger and Skiles allowed practicing the procedures in numerous times before the actual simulation performed and were acutely aware of the nature of the emergency. They also acted immediately, allowing no time for initial shock and assessment of the situation. As a concession, the board of inquiry allowed for the inclusion of a 35-second. When the simulations rerun attempts, the land that is the airport resulted in fatal crashes. If the original finding of pilot error was allowed to stand Captain Sullenberger loses reputation, his career or to an immediate halt.

The one portion of the film that unquestionably adheres to the facts was a depiction of the actual landing and rescue. Police and fire units were dispatched immediately to the scene, and commuter ferry boats were dispatched to pick up the survivors. It was an incredibly cold day in immersion for anything more than a few minutes would have been lethal. The men and women among the respondents work with incredible speed and cooperation to rescue every one of the survivors. Before Captain Sullenberger would leave the aircraft, you made a personal check throughout the entire cabin to make certain that no one had the left behind. Even as he was being taken array to the hospital is an only concern was the count of the survivors. He would consider any assistance to himself until he heard the number, 155, the total complement of passengers and crew. What are the most poignant moments of the film is the expression on Tom Hanks face as he portrayed the relief and Captain Sullenberger upon hearing the news that everyone lived. Very few actors could have done justice to either the role of the man himself as did Tom Hanks. Mr. Hanks has not only acceptable experience in playing at an eclectic range of characters but he is specifically well-versed in taking on roles depicting actual individuals. Presentation of Captain Sullenberger was heartfelt and amazingly stirring. Mr. Hanks has a talent for bringing out the finest qualities of a regular human being placed under the most horrendous of circumstances. Other examples of this ability are scan be found in ‘Apollo 13’ and ‘Captain Phillips.'

This film is the shortest ever made by Clint Eastwood with a running time of only 96 minutes. His typical directorial style usually allows for the gradual release of exposition and greater time allotted to character development. As a concession to the brevity of the film, the only character fully developed was that of Captain Sullenberger. His wife, Lorraine (Laura Linney) was relegated to a marginalized character never actually sharing screen time with her husband. Another talented actress not given the proper showcase was space Anna Gunn portrayed Elizabeth Davis, chairperson of the proceedings. It is a tribute to their professionalism that they would agree to play such underdeveloped characters. Still, the sacrifice of my property utilizing the talents is not in vain. Mr. Eastwood created a tightly edited, highly efficient form of storytelling. You move directly into the points that were to be made giving the audience solid, albeit misleading entertainment.

bulletSully Sullenberger: The man Behind the Miracle: the Difference between Disaster and Deliverance rested on the Character of the Man with his Hands on the Controls.
bulletMoment By Moment: Averting Disaster on the Hudson: Captain Sullenberger, Copilot Jeff Skiles and Air Traffic Controller Patrick Harten Take us Step by Step Through the 208 Harrowing Seconds of Flight 1549.
bulletNeck Deep in the Hudson: Shooting Sully - Director Clint Eastwood and Producers Frank Marshall and Allyn Stewart Reveal How Flight 1549's Terrifying Splashdown in the Hudson River was captured on Film.

Posted 12/27/2016

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