Friday, May 05, 2006

United 93

by Clint Fletcher

First off, I would like to address the obvious issue that is going on with this movie. The question on everyone’s mind is- is the Nation ready for a 9-11 movie? Or more importantly, am I ready for a 9-11 movie? The answers to these questions will probably determine whether you will go see United 93 or not. Personally I believe that there will never be a good time for a 9-11 movie, so no better time like the present then, right?

As a filmmaker, it is hard to make films covering emotional events such as this. You will get a lot of flack for it and people will accuse you of many things that may or may not be true. I’ve experienced this on a small scale with one of my own films a few years back. Backlash for whatever reason is no fun. So I must give kudos to director Paul Greengrass for having the courage to stand up against half a nation of backlash to get this flick made. With that said, you may not want to see United 93, but you should. It is a very earnest and respectful film that got the approval of every single family member of the victims of the doomed flight. That was enough for me and it should be enough for you. It is not blown up for cinematic effect and it is not exaggerated in any way, shape or form. It is very blunt, raw, and at times, very gruesome to watch. But everyone should see it. Everyone should see what these people went through. Nobody on God’s green Earth WANTS to see anything this horrible, but sometimes it is necessary. Even if you think you know the story of United 93, chances are there are still details in the story that you have not yet heard of. I thought I knew the story as well as anyone, but it turns out I didn’t know shit.

To my surprise, while the movie is difficult to watch, it wasn’t near as difficult as I imagined beforehand. As a matter of fact, the first 45 minutes of the film barely focuses on flight 93, but instead brings attention to the numerous air traffic control stations dealing with the mass confusion of planes being hijacked. The negative energy, the raw paranoia, the unspoken dread and angst in the air is expressed well as Greengrass decides once again to go handheld (like the annoying Bourne Supremacy) but this time with a purpose. He wants to put you on the level with these people as if you were right there with him, and he succeeds greatly. Then after the two planes hit the towers and the traffic controllers scramble to find out which other planes have been hijacked, the film switches its attention back on to flight 93. The last 45 minutes play out in real time as the hijackers take over the plane and the passengers band together and attempt to take down the hijackers. This is where it gets difficult to watch. But again, I feel that its necessary. Although we all know how this story ends, the ending to this movie will still haunt you for days, and with good purpose.

This film does not ruin the memories of these lives lost, it honors them with great dignity and respect. Think of it as a video memorial. But it is definitely a story that I feel 1) needs to be told and 2) needs to be seen and heard by everyone. Now of course if you just know you don’t have the stomach for it, then by all means, don’t torture yourself by sitting through it. But there will come a time where every American will have to look back on this horrible day at some point or another. I’m glad my day came while watching United 93. This is the best film of the year, and is likely to stay that way through the remainder of 2006.

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