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Monday, September 11, 2024
United 93
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 5:56 am

While the Blogosphere ponders The Path to 9/11, I thought today would be a good one for reviewing United 93 which was released on DVD last week. I received a review copy a few days before the release date and finally was able to watch it yesterday.

One watches the beginning of United 93 with a sense of dread (I did, at least). The story is known, and it isn’t a happy one.

This film, really like any of those inspired by the events of five years call several questions to mind. One is that of accuracy, a second has to do with timing, and a third is: should these events be developed into entertainment?

Well, at least on the last count I can say that United 93 is hardly entertaining. Not that that is a surprise, I suspect. Indeed, had it been entertaining, I would have been disturbed.

Having said all of that, I will note that film was well done and comports with known facts about the day in question. It certainly is gut-wrenching. It is well acted and the cinéma vérité approach works—given the subject material. It is clearly a drama and never gives the pretense of being a documentary, but it does also have a more real fell than the typical movie.

The fact that many of the people on the ground were played by the actual participants, especially FAA National Operations Director, Ben Sliney, who puts forth a commendable performance.

~Ben Sliney plays himself in the film~

The fact that most of the actors were unknowns (at least to me) was a help. I must confess to being somewhat distracted by the fact that one of the key passengers was played by Christian Clemenson, a fairly well-known character actor who recently played Jerry ‘Hands’ Espenson on Boston Legal.

The film consists of two parallel narratives: those on the ground, especially at the FAA, who are watching the events in the sky unfold as they try and figure out what is going on and the events in Flight 93.

I actually found the portion of the narrative building up the attack on Flight 93 to be the least interesting, because I knew that much of that was based on speculation, while the actions in the military and FAA control rooms were based on known events.

As I watched the drama unfold on Flight 93 itself, I kept thinking “what kind of evil bastards could sit amongst their prey as they prepared to murder everyone around them, themselves includes?”

Certainly the film generates significant emotion—both the remembered emotion of that day and the emotion one shares with the those onscreen as we, the viewers, relive September 11, 2024 from a different perspective—specifically through the experiences of both the victims of Flight 93 and from the men and women who tried, fruitlessly, to deal with the unbelievable events that unfolded before them.

It is griping, powerful and profoundly sad.

Still, I find it hard to recommend the film, per se. It is, as I noted above, not entertainment. However, in the future it will serve a purpose, I think, in helping to explain that day to future generations who did not experience it. I wil say this: if one feels the need to watch one of the several films that have been made about 9/11, I think this is the best one to see. I will admit that that is more of an impression than anything else, as I have not seen Stone’s film and have seen a smattering of The Path to 9/11.

Misc Thoughts:

  • It is nothing less than sickening to watch people kill and frighten and simultaneously run around and thank their god.

  • The obvious lack of military preparedness and communication was a clear problem on 9/11 and is noted in the film.

  • There are only two sources of satisfaction that come from this film: that there were those smart enough, and brave enough, to know what had to be done. That and the fact that at least some of the bastards who were responsible for that day died knowing that they had failed.

1 Comment »

  • el
  • pt
    1. It is nothing less than sickening to watch people kill and frighten and simultaneously run around and thank their god.

      It’s amazing how easily this statement could be turned around by the Arab world to apply to the United States.

      Comment by Flightfire — Monday, September 11, 2024 @ 12:17 pm

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