It tells the story of the day through a meticulous re-enactment of events surrounding United 93, the last of the four hijacked aircraft, in the belief that by examining this single event something much larger can be found - the shape of our world today.
The terrible dilemma those passengers faced is the same we have been struggling with ever since. Do we sit passively and hope this all turns out okay? Or do we fight back and strike at them before they strike at us? And what will be the consequences if we do?
The amazing film United 93 is many things.It is a time machine. As you watch the grim events unfolding, from the first-on-the-scene perspectives of aviation personnel, you are inexorably pulled back into those disastrous moments in our nation’s history. As I watched the smoke billowing from the Twin Towers, I was transported once again to my living room, wrapped in a bath towel and dripping wet from my morning shower. At the sound of Pete’s thunderous cry of disbelief, I had raced there and stopped dead in my tracks at the image on the television screen. My first two words in the post-9/11 world were Our Lord’s name.The movie is also a timely reminder of what we are up against in this protracted, unavoidable war. ...United 93 is, above all, a microcosm of the United States of America. ...They [the passengers aboard Flight 93] also held up a mirror to us, to help us see and recognize what lies deep within. This film reminds us, through the brave actions of these ordinary people, what it means to be Americans. Through their valiant efforts to regain control of their doomed aircraft, we see the soul of America at work. Today, nearly five years later, it is a soul in distress and sorely in need of such a visceral reminder.[...] Every American should see this film. [...] United 93 is a razor-sharp cut into our national soul that should jolt many of us into a renewed awareness of our purpose in fighting the global War on Terror.It should also inspire renewed national pride and honor for those very first warrior-citizens who stood and fought back against our enemy. [Bold emphases added.]
I believe that everyone should see this film, but not because of any political point of view. In fact, the film steers away from engaging politics at all, not even regarding the Islamist nature of the attacks, and that's as it should be. No one depicted in this movie really knew of that aspect of 9/11 during the attack, or what it meant. The only reference to what would follow is a statement by the FAA operations manager Ben Sliney (playing himself) ordering all planes in the US to be grounded and all international traffic turned away because "we're at war with someone out there". No other reference is made to anything happening after 12:06 ET on 9/11.
The reason we all should see this film, at least once, is for the passengers of United 93. Alone, frightened, and under the knife, they stood up and fought back. They died trying to beat the terrorists and made clear that we would not go quietly. We owe them for their sacrifice and the lives they undoubtedly saved in their desperate attempt to regain control of United 93. That, I am absolutely certain, is something which will unite most Americans regardless of how we feel about what came afterwards.
Addendum: Someone needs to scold the normally excellent folks at IMDB. One of the categories in which they've placed this film is "Fantasy".
Every adult in America should see this film.
I won’t see it. Saw this yesterday on Google Video and realized it was enough. The first reviews are being posted around the blogosphere this morning, though, and I’m going to try to round them up. [HT: MaryKatharine]
Whether intended or not, Greengrass reveals the faces of men at war. And even though there are no grand, overarching truths about humanity, or good and evil, or the superiority of one set of beliefs over another in U-93 (there is a short scene toward the end of the film that shows both passengers and terrorists praying), the singular fact that “they” attacked us and “we” fought back cannot be denied, cannot be hidden despite the desperate attempt by some over the last 5 years to do so. We are at war....In the end, Greengrass lets the story do all his talking. A wise choice since the it would have been a relatively simple matter to have made a histrionic, flag waving spectacular instead of the intensely personal drama U-93 turned out to be. For some, that intensity will open old emotional wounds from 9/11 making it very difficult for them to see this film. I would urge them to make the effort anyway. For United 93 will not heal the hurt but rather recall in a vividly personal, emotionally charged manner who and what caused our souls to be scorched that terrible day.
The farther we get from 9/11, the more urgent that reminder becomes. We’ve already had one wake-up call. Is it necessary for the fanatics to give us another? [HT: Allah]
I also wanted to see for myself how the movie handled the memory of the people on flight 93. On that score, I'm pleased. The passengers and crew are real people, with real fear and uncertainty.
Some want to hold back action, others realize they have to do something. It's not headliner to the rescue - it's real people deciding that in the end, they'd rather die trying than die without trying. I hope I never get tested in this way - but I hope if I am, that I do as well.
This is not a happy movie, but it's an important one. The message is powerful, and we need to send one of our own to Hollywood --- Keep making movies about real heroes! If we go out in droves to see this movie - they will get the right message.
... The passengers of Flight 93 were the first Americans to fight back. United 93 wisely avoids focusing too exclusively on any of the individual passengers. Instead, they are presented as an ensemble exemplifying many of the virtues of the American character: a great improvisational intelligence, as they quickly understand and cope with the radically new, horrifying circumstances they are presented with; an extraordinary civic facility, demonstrated by their ability to formulate rapidly a plan of action among themselves; and a fierceness when provoked. In preparation for the assault on the terrorists, one passenger tells a flight attendant: "Get every weapon you can find. We need weapons."
The heroism of those passengers is now forever part of our story as a nation. It's not too soon for a major Hollywood film that portrays it brilliantly. It's about time.
In order to cope, we cannot live everyday in the presence of our worst moments, those memories that tear at the very fabric of our souls. September 11 is one of those memories: In some respects it seems so distant, yet in others it is only yesterday. It is hard to delve deep enough to recall the horrors most of us felt as the tragedy unfolded. United 93 draws those emotions out, and it does so with a reserved modesty. Again, whether this is a good or bad thing is a determination you should make for yourself.
This film further reminds us of the nature of the enemy we face. An enemy who will stop at nothing to achieve world domination and force a life devoid of freedom upon all. Their methods are inhumane and their targets are the innocent and unsuspecting. We call this conflict the "War on Terror." This film is a wake-up call. And although we abhor terrorism as a tactic, we are at war with a real enemy and it is personal.
There are those who would hope to escape the pain of war. Can't we just live and let live and pretend every thing is OK? Let's discuss, negotiate, reason together. The film accurately shows an enemy who will stop at nothing in a quest for control. This enemy does not seek our resources, our land or our materials, but rather to alter our very way of life.
I encourage my fellow Americans and free people everywhere to see "United 93."... Resolve to give thanks and support to those men, women, leaders and commanders who to this day (1,687 days since Sept. 11, 2001) continue the counterattacks on our enemy and in so doing keep us safe and our freedoms intact.
The enemy we face does not have the word "surrender" in their dictionary. We must not have the word "retreat" in ours. We surely want our troops home as soon as possible. That said, they cannot come home in retreat. They must come home victoriously. Pray for them.
People regularly go see movies with killing, and kids play violent video games. What people are adverse to is the reality of United Flight 93. But, if we don't engage in reality, we put it in a place that no longer affects our everyday thoughts, activities, and decisions. In doing so, we risk losing our grip on reality.What happened on Flight 93 was pure evil and we must be reminded that this evil still exists and seeks to destroy us today. We can't get into our SUV's and drive to the mall or relax in front our 42" LCD TV's watching Sex in the City and be deluded that because it didn't happen to "me", I am safe. Any one of us could have been on that plane or could be a target in the future. These are hard issues to deal with, but we must take time out of our lives to feel the pain and remember.It is my hope that during the upcoming Memorial Day, more people take time to reflect on why this country is so great—we rely on ordinary men and women to make extraordinary sacrifices.From the Revolutionary War through our War on Terror, it is the dedication and love that Americans have for their country that drives them to answer our nation’s call to duty, whether it is serving in the Armed Forces, the government, or in local communities.We must recall and remember United Flight 93, for if we don’t, we risk forgetting the millions that have stood for this country during our nation’s history.
In the film's final 32 minutes, the passengers and crew become, as Greengrass has said, "the first people to live in the post-9/11 world." They gather information quickly, including word that a third plane has struck the Pentagon. The men who choose to storm the cockpit don't give speeches about their intentions. They simply decide they must do something, and they know there is a pilot among the passengers who might be able to land the plane. They don't intend to die. They intend to win.
And in world-historical terms, they do win. When Jarrah sits down in the pilot's seat, he tapes a photo of the Capitol to his controls. We don't know where, exactly, United 93 was headed, but it was surely either the Capitol or the White House. By doing what they did, Greengrass reminds us, the passengers saved America from political decapitation.
There's a lot of talk about whether Americans are "ready" to see a movie about 9/11. Some of that talk is doubtless due to the same attitude that says Americans can't possibly stomach seeing footage of the crashes, or the buildings falling. Such infantilization is an insult both to Americans, who are perfectly capable of handling such things, and to the memories of those who perished in the attacks, whose public murders are being treated as though they had been quiet and private deaths.
There's no reason to fear United 93. It is a riveting examination of an unbearable moment. Not only can we take it, we can also rise to the challenge it presents--both to us, and to those who would treat Americans as though they were hothouse flowers incapable of feeling the "right way" about September 11. [HT: Hugh]
I'm not sure if I can use this word as an adjective, but it keeps coming to mind, so here goes. It was shaking. I was shaken. I was shaky. However you want to say it, that's what it did.
On top of that, you've got the incredible weight of about 14 tons of dramatic irony as you watch air traffic controllers in four locations try to piece together radio transmissions and green blips, and flight plans.
Controller 1: "I lost American 11. It just disappeared! It just fell right off my screen."
Controller 2: "Where did you lose it?"
Controller 1: "Somewhere over Manhattan."
I won't tell all the action, but I will say that when they beat down that first terrorist, it was quite possibly the most satisfying, cinematic moment I've ever experienced. I'm not sure what that says about me, but it felt good.
The movie is stark, unadorned. The story speaks for itself. And, the people of Flight 93 and the rest of the victims of 9/11 deserve to have it told.
For all those reasons, it is hard to watch, but you should watch it. [Emphasis added.]
If anything should be controversial, it is Hollywood going AWOL while its country fights the scourge of our time, Islamic totalitarianism. For five years, America has been battling people who are dedicated to destroying every value that Hollywood claims to care most about -- freedom, tolerance, women's rights, secular government, equality for gays -- and Hollywood has yet to make a film depicting, let alone honoring, this war.
Finally, a major studio comes out with a film reminding Americans about the nature of our enemy, about what really happened (to the best of our ability to reconstruct) on one of the 9-11 planes, and the press wonders if Americans are "ready" to see the movie....The only people likely to object to this film are those who don't want Americans to become aware of just how conscienceless, cruel and depraved our enemy is, or those who think that our enemies can always be negotiated with and therefore object to depicting Americans actually fighting back.
Teenage and older children in particular should see this film. If the younger teens have nightmares, comfort them. But young Americans need to know the nature of whom we are fighting. If they are attending a typical American high school or college, they probably don't know.
In the meantime, go and see "United 93," to see why some Americans still take "Home of the brave" seriously; and to see why we have to win this war more than any since World War II. That's how bad our enemy is. You have an unfortunately rare chance to see that enemy at work when you see what happened to everyone who boarded United Airlines Flight 93 that left Newark on September 11, 2001.
I have a feeling this movie will quietly "separate the men from the boys," as it were. It will make the moonbats more moonbatty, and it will strengthen the resolve of those inclined that way. It will draw a line in the sand. It will do medium boxoffice and medium DVD sales but become kind of a "cult classic" in that it will be a cultural identifier for the group of people who want to win this war and feel surrounded by those who are hostile or indifferent. So it will be a quiet steady propaganda/morale booster for our side.
Students of American character should pay close attention to Flight 93. A random sample of American adults was subjected to the highest possible stress and organized themselves in a terribly brief period, without benefit of training or group tradition other than their inherent national consciousness, to foil a well planned and executed terrorist attack. Recordings show the passengers and cabin crew of Flight 93 - ordinary Americans all - exemplified the virtues Americans hold most dear.
Certain death came for them by surprise but they did not panic and instead immediately organized, fought and robbed terror of its victory. They died but were not defeated. Ordinary Americans confronted by enemies behaved exactly like the citizen-soldiers eulogized in Victor Davis Hanson's Carnage and Culture.Herman Wouk called the heroic sacrifice of the USS Enterprise's Torpedo 8 squadron at the Battle of Midway "... the soul of America in action." Flight 93 was the soul of America, and the American people know it. They spontaneously created a shrine at the crash site to express what is in their hearts and minds but not their mouths. They are waiting for a poet. Normally a President fills this role.
But Americans feel it now. They don't need a government or leader for that, and didn't to guide their actions on Flight 93, because they really are America. Go to the crash shrine and talk to people there. Something significant resonates through them which is different from, and possibly greater than, the shock of suffering a Pearl Harbor attack at home.
Pearl Harbor remains a useful analogy given Admiral Isokoru Yamamoto's statement on December 7, 1941 - "I fear we have woken a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible resolve." They were giants on Flight 93.
Decades of liberalization has made our people and both political parties soft to the point that we are more concerned with making friends with our enemies and worried about how their supporters perceive us than we are with protecting ourselves. And now, the left will do anything, including censorship through “outrage” to prevent it.
When you see the images of 9/11, are you upset about what you are seeing, or at what you have allowed yourself to forget?
And always: Never Forget.