There are always films about planes, or set in planes, or heavily featuring planes. But why?
First of all -- there is something undeniably dramatic about flight, in itself. For most of us, life is quite predictable. We live within the confines of the walls of our houses, our offices, and the coffee shop down the road. Even when we go on holiday, we sit by the pool, we lay on the beach, and we go to friendly restaurants.
But the flight is something different.
Speak to the average flier about their upcoming journey, and there'll be some hesitation. Some reference to the fact that they're putting their trust in a big metal thing to not only get them off of the ground and into the skies for a few hours -- but also to bring it back down safely, in a designated landing area. So a plane flight, by nature; is already like a mini film. It's drama.
With a plane, we instantly know the rules. The audience don't need to be taught anything. They know that if something goes wrong on the plane, life is over. That's why 'Snakes On A Plane' worked, because we know how dangerous snakes are. And we know how dangerous a plane journey is. And we know how lethal Samuel L. Jackson can be.
It's interesting to notice that so many comedies are set in the skies. Not just the aforementioned 'Snakes..' but also films like 'Soul Plane' and the classic, quintessential plane movie 'Airplane'. Planes are perfect for comedy, because the main problem with comedic films is giving them enough tension, enough conflict. By immediately placing them in an aircraft, the stakes are raised.
A film about a guy winning over a girl is interesting, just like a film about a guy killing bad guys is interesting. But put that girl on a plane that is plummeting to the ground, or put the bad guy on a flight carrying the President, and you have as much tension as you're going to need.
This is the first in an occasional series on Fly Away Simulation about Aviation and The Movies. This article was written by Daniel Johnson for Fly Away Simulation.