United 93, the Film: Would You Watch It?
Last week's Time magazine carried Richard Corliss' report on the soon-to-be released movie United 93, about the fourth plane hijacked on September 11, 2001 - one that was intended as a missile as the other three hijacked planes were used that day, but the one in which the passengers heroically foiled the hijackers' plans. The plane eventually crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The only fatalities resulting from that plane crash were all on that plane.
The movie, written and directed by Paul Greengrass, sports the following plot line: "A real time account of the events on United Flight 93, one of the planes hijacked on 9/11 that crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania when passengers foiled the terrorist plot."
It has a cast of virtual unknowns, most of them with real-life experience of the parts they play in the movie.
For example, according to the Time magazine report, "J.J. Johnson, who plays the captain of Flight 93, is a real United pilot. Trish Gates, who plays head flight attendant Sandy Bradshaw, was a real United flight attendant, Ben Sliney, national operations manager for the FAA [Federal Aviation Administration]...appears as himself. Lewis Alsamari, who plays one of the hijackers, spent a year in the Iraqi army."
All this seems to point to one thing: the production team has gone through considerable effort to make the movie as faithful to the real thing as possible.
Which leaves me with the question, do I want to watch this movie?
I haven't even been able to bring myself to watch the movie's trailer yet. One of the major reasons for this, I think, is that I know exactly what is going to happen in this movie. From the minute the movie starts, from the time the doors of the plane are closed shut, I know that it is building up to the horrific ending, no matter what transpires in between, no matter how heroic the passengers were, no matter that the terrorists did not succeed in their plan, no matter that the lives of hundreds, possibly thousands of people on the ground were spared because of what this movie will show me happened on that plane that day.
Part of it also has to do with what we went through that day, although it is next to nothing compared to what the passengers on United Flight 93 put themselves through or what the passengers on the other planes and the victims on the ground and their families must have gone through.
For all the utter confusion we all went through that day, it is a day whose events I can remember and recount with clarity, more than four years after it happened. It was a day that brought home the meaning of "foreboding". I watched the second plane ram into one of the twin towers on live TV, heard the third crash into the Pentagon eight miles away from my home on northern Virginia, and had my husband be stuck for more than three hours in the one of the most poorly managed evacuations from Washington, D.C.
To add to the confusion was the fact that there was no information forthcoming from any part of the administration. TV anchors were merely echoing my thoughts - what more could they do? They had as much information as I did; we were all watching live footage of our sense of safety, security and comfort in our chosen way of life unraveling. Two of my neighbors perished in the Pentagon and many came home shaken, unable to eat for days. For months after 9/11 we had to drive past a wounded, blackened and bruised Pentagon on our way to Washington, D.C.
I am not sure when, or if, I will bring myself to watch it.
Andrew Sullivan at the Daily Dish echoes this sentiment.
And yet, I will not see this movie, whatever its merits. The trauma is still too close. That day is still etched in me, as in all of us. It was a specific, unique trauma for those heroes on the plane; but it was also an emotional devastation for anyone who loves this country.
He goes on to say something more that raises the question, is it too early for a Hollywood representation (no matter how closely it tracks the real-life events) of 9/11?
In some ways, I regard the acts of those men and women to be an almost sacred moment in the history of America and of freedom. And sometimes, the sacred is best respected through silence. Sometimes, the greatest deeds, like the most monstrous acts, are best left unrepresented. They stand alone. They demand to be left alone. One day, commemmorate. But do not so swiftly represent. Shakespeare often left the greatest moments in his plays off-stage. They have more power there.
United 93 is slated for release in the US on April 28, 2006.
United 93, the Film: Would You Watch It?
- » Published on April 25, 2006
- » Type: Opinion
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