WHERE THE TRUTH FLIES?
Academy Award winner, Denzel Washington stars as Whip Whitaker,
a seasoned airline pilot, who miraculously crash lands his plane
after a mid-air catastrophe, saving nearly every soul on board.
After the crash, Whip is hailed as a hero, but as more is learned,
more questions than answers arise as to who or what was really at
fault and what really happened on that plane?
Also stars: Nadine Velazquez, Don Cheadle, Kelly Reilly, John
Goodman, Bruce Greenwood, Melissa Leo, Carter Cabassa, Tamara
Tunie. Directed by Robert Zemeckis, screenplay by John Gatins.
“Denzel Washington's performance will be
talked about for years." - Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
In 1999, screenwriter John Gatins served as a technical advisor
on a "military-themed epic" where he spent much of his time with
other technical advisors, mostly naval pilots. They shared "the
most insane stories" about what they had to do to land these
planes on ships in the roiling seas. For the writer, who harbours
a fascination and a fear of flying, these vivid stories set his
imagination in motion. The pressure, the exhilaration of
accomplishing these mid-air acrobatics – what kind of mindset
would they have and how would they find release back in the
company of mortals on earth?
"a character study about a guy really
struggling with his own
So began a twelve-year odyssey that ultimately brought
"Flight" to the screen. The main dramatic conflict explored in
"Flight" is Capt. Whip Whitaker's inability to be truthful to
himself. He is an expert in denial, even as his personal downward
spiral increases exponentially. As Gatins describes it, "'Flight'
is a character study about a guy really struggling with his own
demons. And what should have been a typical day of work for him
becomes a series of unfortunate events that leads to a disastrous
occurrence on his plane. From there a larger story unfolds both
personally and professionally for him. As that world continues to
unfold, we watch the man in the center unravel.
"Part of my own personal life found its way into the fabric of
the screenplay. For me it was an exercise examining my own kind
of issues and demons that I've had throughout my life and how
they relate to this character who has a big event that happens in
his life," Gatins says.
Gatins explains that part of Whip's addiction includes the lies
he tells himself and the ones that other people ask him to
maintain. His real crucible comes when "…the weight of those lies
come to a breaking point where he's going to have to make a
decision," Gatins says.
"What really appealed to me,” says director Robert Zemeckis (Real
Steel), “was how complex all the characters were – they are all
sort of shaded grey. They aren't the typical ‘good guys, bad
guys.' Everyone in the film is, to some degree, damaged and that
becomes the dramatic engine for the piece," Zemeckis notes.
"the suspense in the movie comes from
"What's also interesting about it is that the suspense in the
movie comes from the uncertainty of what the characters are going
to do, how they are going to respond. It's not like there's a
ticking bomb or a meteor that is coming to destroy the earth. The
anticipation comes from not knowing what the characters are going
to do from scene to scene. It's so rare to find a screenplay that
has that kind of depth and complexity. That's what compelled me.
I wanted to see how this was going to resolve, what would happen
to Whip's character."
Contrary to most production schedules, Zemeckis shot the film
sequentially so that performances could grow organically,
allowing the actors and filmmakers to learn from and expand upon
their characters as the film evolved. To help achieve that he
invited screenwriter John Gatins to be on set daily throughout
the film to consult and enhance the screenplay as changes or
Founder’s Award – Robert Zemeckis; Chicago International Film
Spotlight Award – Kelly Reilly; Hollywood Film Festival
Spotlight Award – John Goodman; National Board of Review USA
Director of the Year Award – Robert Zemeckis; Palm Springs
International Film Festival
Best Actor – Denzel Washington: 2013 Screen Actors Guild
Best Actor – Denzel Washington; 2013 Golden Globes
Best Actor – Denzel Washington; 2013 Broadcast Film Critics
Best Original Screenplay – John Gatins; 2013 Broadcast Film
Best Actor – Denzel Washington: 2013 Academy Awards;
Best Original Screenplay – John Gatins; 2013 Academy Awards;