Some of you movie nuts would know the reference in my title immediately. Yup. You were right. That’s College & Electric Youth’s song A Real Hero (featured in the movie Drive). And what’s more fascinating is that it’s actually written in tribute to Captain Sullenberger’s landing of flight 1549 on the Hudson River. Here’s the song before I continue my thoughts
I’d like to share my thoughts on Clint Eastwood’s Sully. It’s not going to be a review and probably the first ‘thoughts’ post I’ve written about a movie that isn’t a review.
Quite a number of critics have given him flak for making drama out of nothing and they’ve criticized him for making the NTSB (National Transport Safety Board) the villain of the plot. Basically, he portrayed them as trying to shift blame to Sully for their own purposes. As far as Sully goes, I feel like all films have the right to freedoms of expression. And especially with art,in this case film,theres a grey area which allows for art to thrive in the first place. It’s subjective and meant to depict a certain frame of mind, convey a certain emotion and find meaning through story-telling. Of course, there has to be limits. But if we were to hack Eastwood for this, there’s plenty of other films that deserve the same treatment. Furthermore, Captain Sullenberger himself wanted to capture his own frame of mind during the ordeal, so as far as depiction is concerned, it doesn’t veer far from his perspective.
Does it then threaten bureaucracy and legitimacy of government? Yes. But then so many other films do too. I’ll admit, Eastwood is being tricky here with how he postures his movie. It feels like it’s real life but it’s actually Sully’s experience at that time. Sully himself has said that though he knew it was part of the NTSB’s job to investigate and felt no malice on their part, he also said on USA Today that, ‘The level of detail, the granularity of it… All those kinds of things translate pretty well to the screen, and it seems real. It feels real’.
So we have a complex case of conflicting ideas here. I kind of feel bad for Capt. Sully though because it must have been really difficult to portray a such conflicting feelings. He was clearly on this which leads me to believe he wanted his side of the story to get out. And well Eastwood pounces on the opportunity to showcase a hero and perhaps also unleash a deeply-rooted dissatisfaction with establishment. And of course, for entertainment. For me, I’m all for creative license but here, Capt.Sully’s and NTSB’s reputations are smeared in the process. And I feel really bad. But if Sully, the main hero of his own story, is willing to put forth this knowing the risks, I feel as though he had something that he’s been wanting to get off his chest quite badly. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just that if it’s told through a medium that serves to entertain, things are bound to get out-of-hand. I liked the film for the part that represented Sully’s internal psyche and trauma but Eastwood changing the facts like how NTSB had to be prompted by Sully to do delayed simulations were just distasteful. But then a part of the tension would have been lost.
Sully carries the emotions of the protagonist but not the truth of the matter. And sad to say, there’s no reconcillation here. But for me, Capt. Sully’s still and always a hero.