United 93

History happens to ordinary people.

Leaders and other supposed great men and women make their grand pronouncements and pose for the cameras, but ordinary people feel the effects of history when it crashes down on them – or when they knock down the first domino.

United 93 is an enourmously affecting and effective piece. I was very skeptical going in and was pleased to hear of the director’s previous movies addressing terrorism and violence with depth and detail and United 93 is no different.

The confusion, the panic, the constantly evolving situation and the entrenched bureaucracy that stifled response are all on display with huge attention to detail and nuance. The director fills in many gaps in the narrative record with common sense bridges of logic, instead of dramatic leaps of faith. There’s no glitz and glamour and the filming style is more documentary than anything else. The actors have wrinkles and as Ron noted, ‘They still have those ugly leather seats in first class.’

When the movie reaches the inevitable the theatre is struck silent and I hear sobs all around me. I’ve been weeping on and off ever since they the passengers start to leave voicemails to their loved ones. For some reason, the woman saying, ‘I just love you more than anything in the world,’ moves me deeply (I think because it sounds like something mom or dad would say). Ron hasn’t stirred in his seat in the past hour and I don’t think I’ve breathed since the opening credits rolled.

When CeCe Lyles shows on the credits, things grow more intense. Ron had worked with CeCe before she transferred out of Chicago. Seeing an avatar of someone you know portray their last surviving hours is devastating and the closing credits roll like a memoriam.

History happens and Kiefer Sutherland doesn’t save the day and you don’t get stranded on an island with Matthew Fox. History is decentralized among hundreds, if not thousands, of individual lives.

I wonder about the world before 9-11. So much died on that day. So much fear was sown as leaders turned to fear to move nations, instead of hope.

5 thoughts on “United 93

  1. J.J.

    I found it to be a very draining experience as well. My heart was beating a mile a minute just walking into the theater….by the time the really disturbing images were on-screen, it had crawled up into my larynx.

    There was plenty of weeping around me, too. But I was really taken aback by the cheers and applause that erupted when the hijackers were subdued; I thought it was really inappropriate.

  2. Andy

    Yeah – I found applause a bit tastless – and to me indicated those folks were too caught up in good/evil to appreciate any context – like when they cut between the terrorists praying and the passengers reciting the Our Father.

  3. Joe

    I worry a little about the timing of the movie…Not in the way the media has been discussing it though. As you mentioned in your post, we are a nation that has been led by fear since the 09/11 attacks. I’m hoping this movie…the memories, emotions and feelings it will provoke…won’t have an impact on the November elections.

  4. Beastmomma

    Do you think that more of the profits from the movie should be donated to charity? It just seems strange to me that a movie should be made that glamorizes the event.

  5. Fate

    all things happen what they do what they say no one can change it no one can stop it a fate we will all meet some day their fate was sealed the moment they stepped onto that plane they had no way of knowing of course but none of us know our own end hence it cannot be stopped the plane was shot down the others hit there targets but in the end all you gotta think is what then i am sorry to sound like i have no sympathy but death comes for us all and we cannot outrun it we must embrace it for “you cannot change your fate, no man can”

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