Sunday, January 18, 2009

Flight 1549, Screen-Ready

Like so much that happens these days, Thursday's safe landing in the Hudson River is both a future movie in our minds and a pastiche of past films--bits and pieces of "Airport," "The Birds," "Top Gun" and the evacuation of Dunkirk in "Mrs. Miniver."

Today we have a script for the climactic scene as the pilot (Harrison Ford or Tom Hanks) takes over the controls, calculates his options in seconds and calmly sets down the plane of terrified passengers.

“My aircraft,” he tells the first officer (Colin Hanks?) in the standard phrasing of airline crews as he takes over the controls.

“Your aircraft,” the co-pilot responds.

So far Captain Chesley B. Sullenberger III has avoided the media but, from investigators' reports, he is a perfect prototype for the stoic, taciturn hero that Clint Eastwood used to play. In describing his first awareness of the crisis, he needed only two words. "Burning birds," he told them.

The movie will have a lean script and depend mostly on special effects and close-ups of passenger and crew reactions. It may not be great art but is sure to have a satisfyingly happy ending.

Update: As a coda, Capt. Sullenberger, his family and crew will take a bow at Barack Obama's inaugural. Cue in the inspirational music and fade to black.

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