January 16th, 2018
“Sully”: Based on A True Story
On January 15th, 2009, Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger had to make an emergency landing in the Hudson River due to a flock of geese that damaged both of the engines on the flight. Everyone evacuated the sinking plane with their life jackets on, jumping onto life rafts and even ferry boats that cruised on the freezing waters of the Hudson River. Due to his efforts in saving all 155 passengers and crew members, Sullenberger is recognized as a national hero and an advocate for aviation safety. Clint Eastwood helps retell the story of the “Miracle on the Hudson” in the movie Sully, which was released in 2016. In the film Sully, directed by Clint Eastwood, some factual events are accurate, while some are twisted to create an antagonist in the movie.
In the movie Sully, there are points in the plot that can be proven to be true. One element of the film that reflect what happened is the conversation Sully had with his first officer before the plane when down. For instance, “After the birdstrike, Sully states, ‘My aircraft.’ First Officer Skiles replies, ‘Your aircraft,’ and relinquishes the flight controls to the Captain” (Auxier 1). This dialogue is proven to be completely accurate. The National Transportation Safety Board crash investigation reports show that Sully stated the words “My aircraft” when he took over the plane. In the movie, Officer Skiles pulls out the Quick Reference Handbook after Sully takes over the plane. In the article, “The New ‘Sully’ Movie: How Accurate?” it is stated that “The movie QRH looks exactly like the real thing, and this action is also what the PM (Pilot Monitoring) would do” (Auxier 1). Eastwood made sure to emulate actions that would have been taken in that particular situation. Having made sure these small details were precise, Eastwood was able to make this movie accurate. In the Miracle of the Hudson Plane Crash documentary, survivor Barry Leonard and flight attendant Doreen Welsh opened up about their injuries. Leonard recalls, “My knee hit my sternum and actually cracked my sternum” (History vs. Hollywood) while Welsh had a deep L-shaped laceration on her leg. Both of these injuries were included in the film.
On the other hand, there are some points in the film Sully that were exaggerated or added in to provide for a more entertaining production. When looking at the script, Sully, who was an advisor to the film, requested to not use the real names of the NTSB officials. Tom Hanks also added “These are people who are not prosecutors. They are doing a very important job, and if, for editorial purposes, we want to make it more of a prosecutorial process, it ain’t fair to them” (Lowy 1). Since the NTSB officials were reimagined to be the antagonist of the film, real names of the NTSB officials were not used because they were originally very respectful towards Sully. In an article titled “What the ‘Sully’ Movie Gets Wrong,” the...