The nation fell in love with Captain Chesley Sullenberger at first sight. Something in his eyes conveys the soul of the man, and that soul seemed then--and now--genuine, honest, responsible, and compassionate.
Sully’s voice also soothed the nation as he recounted the events on the day a U. S. Airways jet struck a large flock of Canada geese, knocking out the jet’s engines and rendering it impossible to return to airport runways. Sully judged his best option was to land the jet on the Hudson River, and he did.
The rest of us had no idea what Sully was going through behind the scenes. We didn’t know how much he cared whether all his passengers survived. We didn’t know the pressures pilots experience as investigators try to determine what happened and who’s liable. Clint Eastwood’s film titled Sully reveals what happened, including what happened in the mind of Sully.
Such an accessible and easily shared film allows for a quick lesson in tropes providing glimpses into the minds of characters. They could, for example, as Shakespeare’s protagonists do, step center-stage and speak their thoughts in a soliloquy. That’s rare, especially in the modern era when realism is in vogue. Thus, we might see characters speak their minds to a mirror, rehearsing what they might say in another setting. They might also read aloud from a diary or write notes and letters revealing their thoughts.
In Sully, Eastwood chooses flashbacks. As Sully runs, so do his thoughts, and they run to the seconds from take-off to landing in the water. As he tries to sleep, his thoughts intrude and steal his peace; the director shows us those intrusive thoughts.
The flashback is an effective tool for film. It’s used often and well in literature of all types.
Read Sully starring Tom Hanks. You’ll like it, not only as a review of flashbacks, but also as a study in heroics without flash, crash, or dash.