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Sully: Miracle on the Hudson (2016)


26th January 2019

Sully – Miracle on the Hudson’, made in 2016, was Clint Eastwood’s 35th as director. When a bird strike knocks out the engines of his plane, pilot Chesley Sullenberger makes the decision to ditch in the Hudson River rather than risk flying to La Guardia airport. As this incident happened very quickly, the film also explores the post-traumatic stress that he experiences after the event, scenes from his youth and the National Transportation Safety’s Board’s inquiry into his decision. The role of the thoroughly dignified and heroic pilot ‘Sully’ was a perfect fit for Tom Hanks. His response, when he realises all passengers were saved, shows the skills of this dependable actor. Our discussion group enjoyed the film and we valued having our aviation enthusiast, Richard, to give us deeper information about the choice Sully made. Richard had given us a fascinating glimpse at the beginning of the evening into instrumentation in the cockpit. Although drama is created by presenting the NTSB as the critical baddies, apparently they did not behave like this. The credits sequence that showed the real Sully, speaking to some of the 155 people he saved, was genuinely moving. We did discuss how the event, successful and heroic, could be seen as a healing experience after 9/11. We were disappointed by Laura Linney as Chesley’s wife, as she was just required to speak into the phone in her scenes and her role was under-developed. There was also some heavy-handed product placement and some of us felt some scenes in the plane didn’t feel real. Amanda spotted Clint Eastwood on a film poster in the sequence when Sully is jogging through Times Square. Our short film – North Atlantic – showed a young isolated air traffic controller communicating with a Scottish pilot, as he runs out of fuel over the ocean. We found this a very well-constructed film. It had added poignancy as it seemed to reflect the present day sadness of the Argentinian footballer, Emiliano Sala, lost in a plane while travelling from Nantes to Cardiff. Sonia noticed that the film was shot in Beachy Head and not the Azores. Richard assured us that plane travel was highly safe and gave us some comforting statistics to prove this. A good way to end our discussion. Anne Goldstein

From the perspective of the projectionist of the evening there were some things that were not as rehearsed but the show was appreciated by all bar 4 who left early. I enjoyed the main film more than most (films) and the short film North Atlantic was a well matched compliment to Sully. The mulled wine went down quickly ! We try to improve each time and for this film we were able to introduce a live internet connection for our guest speaker, Richard Goldstein, to enable him to manipulate a 360 degree image of an A320 cockpit on the large screen while explaining some key elements. Eugene.

Richard Goldstein, an expert in aviation simulation, began the evening by giving a very helpful and informative explanation of flight controls, with on-screen illustration. Having a live speaker is another triumph for our cinema. Sully, the story of the landing of an Airbus on the Hudson River and the resulting enquiry into the incident, is a riveting film about heroism. It's not a documentary, it's an exciting story of a pilot's snap decision and of his mental stress caused by the following investigation. The short film shown before the main feature continued the theme of flight disasters. The pilot of a light aircraft has lost his navigational instrumentation due to an electrical storm and is flying to certain death. It was a very poignant reminder of the so recent sea disaster and loss of the Argentinian footballer. Everyone in the discussion group had enjoyed the whole evening. It never ceases to amaze me how many in our community bring such expertise to these discussions; Richard was there to answer questions and one member of the group had worked in air traffic control. If you haven't experienced one of our post film discussions, give it a try, come along next time. Sonia

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