Tuesday, September 13, 2016


This week, I saw the new film Sully, about the successful crash-landing of a damaged passenger airplane in the Hudson River on January 15, 2009, about its heroic Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, and about the heroic rescue work by NY ferries and First Responders that enabled all 155 on the plane to escape with their lives. While attention rightly goes primarily to the quick-thinking captain who safely steered the plane away from  crashing into a crowded city, the film also rightly highlights the quick response by NY ferries and First Responders. Watching that - as native New Yorker - I felt justly proud of my great home city and its citizens. Seeing it on the 9/11 weekend complemented memories of heroic New Yorkers on that earlier tragic day - but this time with a much happier outcome!

Since the "Miracle on the Hudson" was an historical event, the outcome of which we are already familiar with before seeing the film, the movie itself lacks real suspense. Even so, the story is retold in such a way that every moment of the flight and rescue is grippingly exciting, even though we already know the happy ending.

The real tension in the film comes from the virtual persecution Sully appears to receive from seemingly narrow-minded, bullying bureaucrats conducting the NTSB's post-crash inquiry. It seems like a classic case of no good deed going unpunished, and it is virtually impossible to feel any sympathy for the unimaginative architects of the inquisition against the hero pilot. There has been some controversy about this aspect of the film and about exactly how accurately the NTSB bureaucrats have been portrayed. (Presumably, that is one reason the names of the actual investigators are not used.) 

Leaving that issue aside, Sully remains a powerful evocation of one of the more positive and uplifting events in our recent post-9/11 national history, a celebration of a good man who did his job well and in the process saved many lives and deservedly is now seen as a hero, and a celebration also of communal heroism in a great city. 

1 comment:

  1. I too saw the movie Sully and was reminded of my time in NYC during Post Tropical Cyclone Sandy recovery working for FEMA. I too was impressed by the resiliency of the New Yorkers and Jersey Citians during that event.