I took the kids to see “Gravity” last night at a 3D IMAX theater, which was fun. I thought it was an entertaining movie but you had to suspend your disbelief (and any rudimentary scientific knowledge) at a film that is a chain of implausible or practically impossible events. (I also had to suspend my normal dislike for Sandra Bullock as an actress and not constantly hope for a catastrophic airlock failure). However, the scientific barriers to Gravity as a film pale in comparison to the historical barriers presented in the critically acclaimed movie “Captain Phillips” with Tom Hanks. I was always like Hanks as an actor and this film is being cited as one of his very best performances. Yet, there are a few critics: the crew of the Maersk Alabama who say that the film is best on a demonstrably false account and makes the wrong man the hero in the famous standoff at sea.
Crew members are irate over the movie because they insist that Phillips was a major contributor to the boarding of the cargo ship due to his refusal to take the most basic actions to avoid the coast and later to evade the pirates. Crew members describe Phillips as an unpopular captain who was self-righteous and domineering. The most serious allegations came out in a trial where 11 crew members sued Maersk Line and the Waterman Steamship Corp. for almost $50 million — largely due to the alleged failures of Phillip. He was accused of ignoring basic anti-piracy measures and repeated warnings sent to the ship about pirates in the area.
The lawsuit documents how Phillips was told not to go so close of the Somali coast but says that Phillips was dismissive and said that he would not allow “pirates scare him.” He is also accused of ignoring an anti-piracy plan on the ship — a common plan used by all ships. This includes a standard measure to cut off lights and power and lock themselves below decks. Phillips is accused of dismissing the plan and taking standard precautions despite the fact that, over this three-week period, 16 container ships in the same region had been attacked by pirates. Eight of those ships had been taken by pirates. This is in stark contrast to Hanks on the film who is yelling out orders to tighten security and take such measures.
It also does not show Phillips ignoring seven emails about pirates in the area and warnings not to get closer than 600 miles of the coast. Phillips reportedly took the ship 235 miles from the coast. Phillips admits it was at least 300 miles from the coast. The movie makes Phillips look like the one who is most concerned when the crew says it tried to show Phillips charts and ship locations that he ignored. They say that Phillips made them do a fire drill as pirates were chasing them and failed to order the lights to be turned off to make it more difficult for them to be followed. After a narrow escape in the first attack, Phillips ordered the ship back to the original route and went downstairs to sleep. They insist that he gave no instructions or a plan for the boarding which occurred later. These are obviously the views of crew members and not Phillips.
Perhaps the worst allegation is that the true hero of the story was relegated to a bit role in the movie. He is Chief Engineer Mike Perry, who led most of the crew downstairs and locked them in. It was Perry, not Phillips, who disabled all of the systems and it was Perry who attacked the chief pirate and used him as a bargaining chip for Phillips.
Sony may have seen the problem with the film. They paid crew members as little as $5,000 for this life rights — and reportedly an obligation to remain silent.
If these allegations are true, would that influence your decision to watch the film? The film is being given international critical acclaim for the reportedly inspired performance of Tom Hanks. Yet, it does appear to bend history to the demands of Hollywood. I have previously written about how movies often defame the dead in order to make for a better story. Of course, everyone in this film is very much alive.
Source: NY Post