May 01, 2006

"United 93" Review

I came away from this movie with three main observations:

1) The film answers a lot of questions about what happened that day. There isn't anything revealing in terms of new information but rather it presents these events in a way that shares the perspectives of everyone involved just as it happened. Even though what took place on the plane was pieced together mostly from transcripts of phone conversations between passengers and their loved ones as well as recordings from the cockpit, everything else that took place with the air traffic controllers, the FAA and NORAD are all painstakingly laid out so that we get a feel for what was going on behind the scenes while the rest of us could only watch and listen to news reports.

You canÂ’t underscore enough how different a situation it was back then. Today, the idea of this kind of attack is so ingrained in our psyche as a reality of the world we live in. But before that day, the concept of a commercial aircraft being used as a weapon was inconceivable. It was a true sucker punch. While I canÂ’t imagine something like that ever happening again knowing what we know now, no one could have dreamed of it happening in the first place up until after that moment.

2) The film was very well done. Presented in real time, it represents the last 90 minutes in the lives of everyone aboard that plane. Even though we all know the ending, since the editing is so tight and the information presented in the same way as it unfolded during those moments we, the audience, almost feel like there is a slight chance that the result will be different. It's completely free of politics or finger-pointing. It's practically a documentary.

3) This is an extremely important film. Because the result wasn’t different. It was as horrible as we remember. And for those who see this movie, every emotion and memory you had from that day – no matter how much they have receded into your brain’s long-term storage - will come back to you. You will relive that morning. As painful as it may be, it’s important that we all do that.

The greatest value "United 93" offers is not so much a reminder to those who lived through it of what happened or the kind of enemy we face. Rather, it will better serve those too young to remember or who were not yet born. Because we will still be fighting this enemy in the decades to come. And they need to understand what happened that day; not as a couple of paragraphs in a social studies text but as it actually happened and what it meant for this country.

If you have kids who are now teenagers and better prepared to handle the intensity of these events, I recommend that they see it as well. Be aware that there is some violence aboard the plane and some harsh language used by those on the ground who are trying to come to grips with what's going on (a few f-bombs were dropped out of frustration by folks at NORAD). You know you're own kids best. If they can handle "Saving Private Ryan" they can handle this.

"United 93" came in #2 at the box office this weekend. But as was the case with "The Passion", I think that word of mouth will keep this film in the top five for the next month or two. Anyway, thems my two cents.

Posted by: Gary at 11:10 AM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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1 Couldn't agree more. The film's redeeming quality is its brutal honesty. There's nothing superfluous here - just the best possible recreation of what actually happened, and why the passengers who took out the four terrorists are American heroes.

Posted by: Matthew at May 01, 2006 12:49 PM (T8r50)

2 "no one could have dreamed of it happening in the first place up until after that moment." Actually, that isn't quite true. It's odd, but a few months before the pilot episode of "The Lone Gunmen" had that scenario as it's plot, complete with the conspiracy theory that the Guvment set it up so we would go to war. I didn't remember the episode myself until last year when the set came out on DVD. I watched, horrified at the prophetic nature (at least the plane heading toward the WTC) of the episode and all the sick feeling I had that day came flooding back. Granted, I honestly don't believe the government has the ability to do something on that grand a scale without someone ratting them out... but it was kind of eerie. I'm not so sure I can watch it on the big screen. I think I would rather weep copious amounts in the privacy of my own home where I am guaranteed not to run out of Kleenex. But thanks for the review.

Posted by: ethne at May 02, 2006 03:31 PM (UlI/7)

3 I saw this film today, alone. I will see it again at a later date with my husband, and if he approves, then with my 12 year old daughter. Your review is excellent and spot on. I truly hope that those avoiding the movie can bring themselves to overcome their reluctance to relive that wretched day. It is crucial that we never lose our anger-never forget the people who perished.

Posted by: Chris at May 10, 2006 03:49 PM (xsppG)

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