With Sully, inspired by the Hudson miracle, Clint Eastwood pays tribute to New York. A beautiful exorcism of September 11, 2001.
A plane flies over the skyline of New York before hitting a skyscraper. Since September 11, 2001, American cinema no longer projected such an image on a screen. This vision haunts Commander Sullenberger. Sully, for the intimates. Yet this nightmare did not happen on January 15, 2009. That day the “Hudson miracle” occurred. Sully is the experienced pilot of US Airways Flight 1549. The plane, a few minutes after takeoff, loses its two reactors due to a cloud of birds. Sully attempts a forced landing on the icy waters of the Hudson River. It saves the lives of 155 passengers on board.
This old monkey of Clint Eastwood, 86 years old and a talent intact, takes this true story to stage much more than a film catastrophe that finishes well. What interests him is the “human factor”. He has the face of Tom Hanks, his mustache and gray hair, never as credible as the ordinary hero, a man of modest courage and good-natured intelligence (Captain Phillips, The Bridge of Spies). To him and his co-pilot Skiles (Aaron Eckhart), the National Transportation Safety Council is looking for noises. Instead of playing the heroes and crashing on the Hudson, they would have to turn around and land at LaGuardia. Sully is a trial film where the pilot has to prove that the engineers’ algorithms, warm in their flight simulator, are wrong. “They’re playing Pac-Man, you’re piloting a plane full of passengers,” Skiles said. But the libertarian Eastwood does much more than settle their accounts to the rounds-of-leather.
American Sniper, his previous film, showed post-September 11 America and the Iraq war from Texas. Sully shows this same America from New York. La Grosse Pomme, in 2009, is a city still bruised, bereaved, traumatized by the attacks against the World Trade Center. The miracle of the Hudson, which is not a miracle because it owes everything to the human genius, is a sort of exorcism for the inhabitants of New York. A Democratic city that the very republican Eastwood, director of the high plains and wide open spaces, has little surveyed in his filmography. Yet it is he who offers this superb catharsis to the metropolis and to the whole of America. “It’s been a long time since we’ve had such good news in New York. Especially when it comes to a plane! “Said a colleague from Sully. “The New Yorkers showed the best of themselves in 24 minutes.” More than words, what marks are the images of this plane flying between the towers of Manhattan, filmed from Apartments or offices in New York. The American public was not mistaken. This cinema of resilience drew the crowds to its release in theaters across the Atlantic.
Sully finishes with Clint Eastwood, with Steven Spielberg, among the last great Hollywood classic filmmakers. Of those able to tell the history of their country and to dress the wounds. Great art.