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.