Sunday, September 16, 2012

Eiga Sai 2012: "Happy Flight"

July 11, 2012

It is that Eiga Sai time of the year again.  Time again to enjoy a number of great Japanese films for FREE at the Shangri-la Mall.  I have been quite busier lately so it had not been easy to sneak this treat into my schedules in the past years.  This year, I thought I could not catch any of the films presented. Fortunately, some free time opened up for me yesterday after lunch.  I thought, how bad could it be on a Tuesday afternoon?

When I got to the theater area of the mall at a little past 1:15 pm, the queue for the tickets was already snaking around several- fold in the theater lobby. There were really significantly more people watching this film fest now than before.  These were probably many students, but I also saw yuppies there as well as senior citizens and housewives, all patiently waiting in line.  I settled to the very end of the long line, and a lot more people lined up behind me.  The guard even told us at the tail end of the line that there might not be enough tickets to reach us.  I decided to just stand my ground and wait.  The line started to move at exactly 1:30 pm as promised.  (They used to start giving out tickets an hour before, now only 30 minutes before screening.)  Luckily, I was still able to get one of the last few tickets for the 2 pm showing.  

When I was going to the Shang, I thought I would be watching the esoteric samurai film "Abacus and Sword."  However, that turned out to be the 2pm show on Thursday.  I was going to watch a movie called "Happy Flight."  Needless to say, the title disappointed me.  What juvenile topic could a movie with this generic title be about?  Anyway, I am there, and I got my ticket, so in I go.


With a title like "Happy Flight", I expected a light comedy although I had no idea what sort of "flight" was referred to. An pre-flight instruction video that preceded the opening credits made it clear that this would be about a flight of an airplane.

(photo credit:

In the first thirty minutes or so of the film, we see a slew of activity that went on behind the scenes before a commercial flight takes off from the airport. We meet the pilot-in-training on his final flight exam, the stern pilot examiner, the strict purser, the gaggle of excited new stewardesses on their first foreign flight, the team of mechanics on the tarmac, the ground crew, the people in the flight tower, the guy responsible to ward off birds, and of course, all those the quirky passengers. When the plane takes flight and encounters various problems with natural, mechanical, and human causes, the crew both onboard and on the ground all cooperate to ensure the passengers welfare.

These people all have their own little side stories to tell, mostly hilarious. But you can also feel an underlying seriousness the overall story the director wants to tell. This becomes more evident when the plane is in flight when every decision made is one of life and death. In the midst of the comedy, you cannot help but feel the tension and drama of the situations as well. This is indeed everything you are curious about the airline industry but were too afraid to ask or too afraid to even actually know. As I take my next flight, I will definitely think of this movie again.


Eiga Sai 2012 runs at the Shangri-la Mall up to Sunday, July 15, 2012.  Admission is FREE.  Don't miss this rare chance to enjoy a great Japanese film this week!

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