′Sully′: Clint Eastwood and Tom Hanks retell legendary Hudson River landing | Film | DW | 08.09.2016
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'Sully': Clint Eastwood and Tom Hanks retell legendary Hudson River landing

At 86, Clint Eastwood may be politically unpopular, but has offered a based-on-a-true-story film with hit potential. In "Sully," Tom Hanks plays the pilot that bravely landed a passenger plane in the Hudson River.

Clint Eastwood has had more success as a director and actor than as an election campaigner. His 35th film is released worldwide on Thursday and opens in US cinemas on Friday. Germany will have to wait until November 1.

"Sully" tells the dramatic story of the legendary pilot Chesley B. Sullenberger who was forced to land a plane full of passengers in the Hudson River in 2009. The jet had flown through a flock of Canada geese during its initial ascent and was out of commission.

Miraculously, no one was seriously injured in the emergency landing. Sullenberger - known as "Sully" - was celebrated as a national hero.

Sullenberger faced intense investigation

It wasn't until later, when the aviation authorities began investigating the incident, that Sullenberger ran into hardship - not because he'd made a mistake, but because he was vocal about weaknesses in the industry. According to Eastwood's film, the situation threw him into a personal crisis as well.

As a director, Clint Eastwood has created a number of masterpieces, such as the jazz film "Bird" (1988), the melodrama "Bridges of Madison County" (1995), the boxer drama "Million Dollar Baby" (2004) and "Gran Torino" (2008), which tackles racism head on.

As an actor, Eastwood has belonged to Hollywood's upper echelons for decades. He's won a handful of Oscars and countless other film prizes and is among American cinema's most beloved stars. On set, he's known for being straightforward, honest, hard-working and collegial.

Cops, snipers and self-administered justice

But Eastwood often reveals another side of himself. As an actor, he's played in quite a few Westerns where revenge and self-administered justice were central. His role as a brutal cop in "Dirty Harry" (1971) is still legendary and served as a role-model for many other movies.

Still from Dirty Harry with Clint Eastwood, Copyright: AP Photo/Warner Bros.

As 'Dirty Harry,' Clint Eastwood did dirty business in San Francisco

Eastwood's recent directing project, "American Sniper" (2014), can be interpreted as an appeal for the rights of those who are stronger. The film about a highly decorated military sniper, who was later killed in a gun accident, sparked hefty debates in the US and abroad.

That's just cinema, you could say. But off-screen, Clint Eastwood isn't shy about expressing his own political views. He's long been a vocal supporter of the Republican Party. While he has a right to his opinion in a democratic society, he hasn't always been tactful about voicing it.

In 2012, he shocked the public when, at a Republican Party conference, he started yelling at an empty chair that represented the political opponent Barack Obama. It was an embarrassing moment that damaged his reputation.

Eastwood would vote for Trump

Recently, Eastwood said in an interview with "Esquire" that he would vote for presidential candidate Donald Trump. He also offered some advice to America's politicians, while also saying it was "boring" listening to the presidential candidates. "I'd say get to work and start being more understanding of everybody - instead of calling everybody names, start being more understanding."

Trump, said Eastwood, was the lesser evil.

Hollywood colleague Meryl Streep, who co-starred in "Bridges of Madison County," responded to his statements with astonishment. "I'll have to correct that! I'm shocked. I really am," Streep, 67, told US magazine Variety in response to Eastwood's comments. "I would have thought he would be more sensitive than that."

Experience as mayor

Clint Eastwood has political experience himself - even if only at the local level. From 1986 to 1988, he was mayor of the small coastal town of Carmel in California.

Tom Hanks as Chesley B. Sullenberger in Clint Eastwood's new film 'Sully', Copyright: Warner Bros.

Tom Hanks as Chesley B. Sullenberger in Clint Eastwood's new film 'Sully'

Many film experts have struggled to understand Clint Eastwood's world view. Some pieces of his biography just don't quite seem to fit together. That's especially true for his films, in which he often plays the tough guy who takes justice into his own hands.

On the other hand, Clint Eastwood continually stands for straightforward Hollywood films. As a director he's shown that he's not afraid of the grey area and doesn't split the world into black and white.

In his most recent film, in which Tom Hanks plays the courageous pilot Chesley B. Sullenberger, Eastwood's more sensitive side seems to come through.

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