United 93

Published on May 5 2006

poster Wow. I went to see this movie last night. I knew it was going to be a tough experience, but I found that after 5 years, this story still shakes me deep. This brought back every second of the confusion and horror of that Tuesday morning. Who would have thought that a Hollywood full of right-bashing, "Blame-it-on-us" liberal types could make a movie without a hero or a love story? Let alone have it be a movie like this one. It's not a flag-waver--there is only one shot of an American flag early on, during the terrorists trip to the airport. There is no "agenda" or any attempt to portray one side or the other as sympathetic. This was a movie with and without heroes, any heroism rising out of fear, panic, and terror. The people portrayed in this film were us. Gerard Van der Leun says it here in a way I only wish I could say:
"United 93," from the first frame to the last, simply and clearly lets you see what happened high in the air on that day. It is, as the phrase on the poster says, "The plane that did not reach its target." Instead, it reached something unintended and much higher. It became and will remain a legend; an integral part of the tapestry of the American myth from which we all draw what strength remains to us, and, in the future, will surely need to draw upon even more deeply. Like the best of our legends, it arises out of our ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
I didn't know a single face or recognize a single name among the actors. It's a somewhat documentary style telling, not filmed from any particular person's viewpoint. I wasn't even sure of the names of the characters. Although we've all heard the name "Todd Beamer", I would have been hard-pressed to tell you which character was his. I knew that Ben Sliney, national operations manager at the FAA, played himself in the movie, from reading about it beforehand. But there was not one recognizable "star" in this film, not one "beautiful people" type. At two hours, it's very close to real time the actual events of that day, which brings back the feelings of "What the f*** is happening?" that we all felt. There are no "timestamps" on the scenes to give a sense of how fast events were unfolding. There were none needed. We all remember the confusion and the incredulity of those few hours that morning, and how time stopped when we watched the second plane hit the south tower. During the scenes of the inner areas of the FAA headquarters, and the headquarters of the military exercises, the confusion over which planes were hijacked, which planes were still in the air, had it been Flight 11 that hit the WTC, or was it still in the air had me as confused as those traffic controllers must have felt--even though I already knew the flight numbers of the planes that became deadly weapons. The visual of the huge board with a light for every plane in the air was chilling. This movie is gut-wrenching at best, since we know the outcome. We know what happens. Still, I was surprised at the emotional reaction I had, the incredible anger I felt, the urge to hurt those terrorists, even the interior prayer that this time the passengers would get into that cockpit and get that plane down safely. Knowing that there was a potential flight crew in a passenger with some flight experience and a passenger who had worked control tower operations drew me in, made me hope that that maybe, just maybe...... I was shaken by the intensity of that anger, that hatred of those people. Shots of the passengers praying intertwined with shots of the terrorists praying, and all I could feel was hatred for those b******s. Those murdering b******s. I found myself gripping the armrest of my seat so hard that my hands hurt. What would I, could I, have done in that situation? Even though much of the resolution may be embellished--we don't know what happened in the final moments of that flight--there was such a catharsis when the passengers took their only chance. The last ten? five? minutes of the film is the most gripping and intense I've ever seen on screen. I'm not going to "spoiler" the ending, but it will shake any viewer to their deepest core. It's hard to keep your eyes open for it. I've read that audiences have been crying as they leave the theater, but I didn't see any of that last night in the mostly older audience. There was dead silence as we all left. Absolute silence. I wonder if they were all as numbed as I still feel today. It was painful to watch. It was not "too soon".

Written by admin

Published on #Commonplace, #Current Affairs

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[...] HS buddy Laurie from Growing Old Disgracefully has her thoughts up on United 93, which she saw yesterday. Go read it. [...]