'Sully': Clint Eastwood and Tom Hanks retell legendary Hudson River landing

Clint Eastwood celebrates a modern hero in 'Sully'

Tom Hanks is 'Sully'

In his 35th film as a director, Clint Eastwood tells the story of American pilot Chesley B. Sullenberger, known as Sully, who landed a full passenger plane on the Hudson River in 2009. Tom Hanks takes the lead in this true story.

Clint Eastwood celebrates a modern hero in 'Sully'

Memorable images

Pictures of the spectular emergency water landing of the US Airways jet went around the world. It was a miracle that none of the 155 people on board were injured in the maneuver.

Clint Eastwood celebrates a modern hero in 'Sully'

Just doing his job

Chesley B. Sullenberger was a very experienced pilot when he had to land in the Hudson River in 2009. Clint Eastwood was inspired by the story of an expert who was just doing his job as best as he could in the heat of the moment. With years of experience under his own belt, Eastwood is known as a disciplined and professional actor and director.

Clint Eastwood celebrates a modern hero in 'Sully'

Quick thinking, skilled moves

The aircraft struck a flock of geese on its initial ascent out of LaGuardia Airport and became disabled, forcing Sullenberger to land in a skilled but unusual maneuver. Eastwood turned the situation into a catastrophe film.

Clint Eastwood celebrates a modern hero in 'Sully'

From hero to scapegoat

Eastwood didn't only concentrate on the short flight and emergency landing. He also portrayed the events that followed. Sullenberger and his co-pilot Jeff Skiles (Aaron Eckhart) were initially celebrated as national heroes. But when the authorities investigated the incident, they also received criticism. Both pilots felt like they've been treated unfairly.

Clint Eastwood celebrates a modern hero in 'Sully'

Problems in the aviation industry

During the investigation, Sullenberger and his co-pilot addressed challenges in the aviation industry. Competition had been tightening and airlines were forced to cut costs. These developments meant safety measures were suffering, they said. "Sully" is not just entertaining, but also broaches an issue that is still current.

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.

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.

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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'

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.