2007’s Movies List: #16

#16: United 93

‘United 93′ is the story of the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon. If you’re reading this blog, you’ve lived through the 9/11 attack, and like me, you probably remember exactly where you were when you heard about them. I just got finished with watching the film a second time, and then again with the audio commentary. Obviously, I love this movie. But for movies this high on the list (the ones that get this close to my Top 10) have to merit a little more than a love on my part. The first question, and a fair one at that, is why do I love this film?

Should I be allowed to love a film that documents such a horrific event? The thing is, like the title implies, the film isn’t just telling us about the events. It’s taking the story of one flight that was hijacked, but never reached the terrorists’ destination. This film also shows the point of view of the military and FAA personnel involved with the situation on the ground. Another movie that was made for TV based on this flight (that being United Flight 93, and that film being called ‘Flight 93’) focused not on that aspect, but rather the families who were receiving the phone calls from the hijacked passengers on that flight. I sometimes wonder what this film would be like if Paul Greengrass, writer and director, had shown some of the family members.

Greengrass mentioned in the commentary the reason behind not doing that. He wanted the audience to always be with these people, I think. It also seemed that he wanted to make the audience feel tied, maybe claustrophobic, to this situation on the plane. It works, though. I can already imagine what the reactions are on the other side of the phone calls because the way the actors, along with the writing, portray the scenes makes us feel cpnnected with them. I think that was a big theme of the film.

I almost question now why all the scenes of the FAA and such on the ground were given so much screen time, but I only felt that on repeat viewings. The first time I saw this film, I was scared from start to finish. Actually, this truly is the scariest film I have ever seen. I might be because it really happened, and it’s obviously believeable because it happened. This film, though, is proof that it’s not just the event itself-it’s the way it’s protrayed. It was very well directed; should have won Best Director over Scorsese last year, I thought (Can’t wait for the comments on that statement…) That’s saying a lot for a film whose story is quite known. It didn’t have to be really good, but it was. The use of handheld camers gives the feeling of being right there

‘United 93’ is probably the best film that has ever been made and ever will be made on this incident. This is a weird film, in that I knew how it was going to end. Yet, the passengers are as convicted as the audience that they really will be able to take back control of the plane and get out alive. I really thought they were going to do it, and in some miniscule, awkward way, I was ‘rooting’ for them. I think anyone would be. I think we all wish we could help these people out of this situation. But the fact is they are the ones who acted, and even though they all died for their actions, we didn’t suffer any more casualties because of it.

But that’s the real life implications. Obviously, for the movie world, this has to hold up on its own. I would say that it does. It simply tells the story-nothing more, nothing less. It accurately portrays all the little details of the incident and truly grabs you into where the passengers are. You will likely be scared, but it’s the ending that we all know that shows that we have nothing to fear. We can act against evil, but we just need to figure out how and do it.