Print Story Movie Review: United 93
Diary
By aphrael (Wed May 03, 2006 at 02:20:15 PM EST) (all tags)
There were a number of ways in which United 93 could have been turned into an utter artistic disaster. Two of the most likely: it could have been highly sentimental, devoting lots of time to the backstory of the passengers, showing you their life before showing you their death; or it could have played up the passengers as superheros, making them out to be larger-than-life rambo figures, making them into comicbook role models for Generation Y.

The movie did neither of these things. As a result, it was an amazingly well done film, and will probably rank as one of the best movies of the year.



The movie begins with the hijackers praying, and i've seen two criticisms of that: one, from the right, that it humanizes the terrorists too much - and the other, from the left, that it makes too much of an issue of their religion. I thought it was the right way to begin the movie; the story starts with the hijackers, and it was right that the film reflect that. It also played well with one of the film's great strengths: it makes no attempt whatsoever to explain why the terrorists did what they did. it shows them praying, which leads the viewer to assume that it's a religiously motivated act ... but there is no nasty lengthy exposition and reflection to beat the point home. That, combined with the camerawork, gives the film a sense of immediacy and a sense of action, both of which seem to make it more real.

Much of the first half of the film is spent showing the reactions of air traffic control and norad to the earlier events of the day. It does a fantastic job of showing the utter confusion present in both places and of displaying first the incredulity at what was happening and, then, the transition from incredulity to horror. This is something I would not have expected to be possible in a relatively short film, and both the director and the screenwriter are to be commended.

The latter half of the film, of course, takes place on the airplane. There is a fair amount of liberty taken with history here; liberties which, like many of the liberties taken in Gladiator, adhere to the spirit of fact without adhering to the letter of fact. The choice of unknown actors to play the unknown people on the airplane was a good one; it is much easier to relate to them as just random people forced by circumstance to play a part in a drama they wanted no part of. Their reactions are unbelievably realistic, to coin an oxymoron. The script managed to hit just the right note: there was no patriotic chest-beating, just a grim determination: "oh my god, what are we going to do?".

The best, or perhaps the worst, part of the movie is that it is impossible to watch without feeling empathy - for the people on the plane and for the people not on the plane. This is done without the usual Hollywood mechanics of faux emotion; it probably only works because of our collective memory of the day. In that sense, the film is less a drama than a mirror: it is designed to reflect back at the movie-going public the things it felt when the events of September 11, 2001 took place.  That makes it all the more surprising that it works as a drama. The producer, director, and screenwriter should be commended for their work.

< Justice pt II | BBC White season: 'Rivers of Blood' >
Movie Review: United 93 | 11 comments (11 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
United 93 by theboz (4.00 / 1) #1 Wed May 03, 2006 at 02:23:47 PM EST
Isn't that the plane they shot down over Pennsylvania?
- - - - -
That's what I always say about you, boz, you have a good memory for random facts about pussy. -- joh3n
depends. by aphrael (4.00 / 1) #2 Wed May 03, 2006 at 02:30:15 PM EST
do you believe the official account or the revisionist account?
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.
[ Parent ]
Neither (N/T) by theboz (2.00 / 0) #11 Sat May 06, 2006 at 06:34:02 PM EST

- - - - -
That's what I always say about you, boz, you have a good memory for random facts about pussy. -- joh3n
[ Parent ]
listen here you fucking communist: by rmg (2.00 / 0) #3 Wed May 03, 2006 at 02:33:35 PM EST
well, anyway... you know how this kind of thing goes.




[t]rolling retards conversation, period.
[ Parent ]
The Famous "Et Cetera Troll" by CheeseburgerBrown (4.00 / 1) #4 Wed May 03, 2006 at 02:49:36 PM EST
my own invention. by rmg (4.00 / 1) #5 Wed May 03, 2006 at 03:05:49 PM EST
it's how i convey the depth of my laziness




[t]rolling retards conversation, period.
[ Parent ]
sounds good by theantix (2.00 / 0) #6 Wed May 03, 2006 at 03:41:59 PM EST
Saved to the netflix queue, thanks for the review.

____________________________________
You sir, are worse than Hitler.
I am surprised . . . by slozo (2.00 / 0) #7 Wed May 03, 2006 at 11:15:06 PM EST
. . . at your glowing review, especially after hearing quite a few people give a description of the supposedly terrible trailer. An extremely difficult movie to make well, considering the backdrop of emotion and reality of the story. I will see it then. On video. When I return.

from what i understand by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #10 Thu May 04, 2006 at 07:09:03 AM EST
the big problem with the trailer was its unexpectedness. i mean ... fock, i can't watch videos of the tower collapsing without choking up, even now.

so how am i going to feel seeing something similar unexpectedly in a trailer when i've come to a theatre to watch, say, mission impossible?

If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

[ Parent ]
What I really admire by Herring (4.00 / 1) #8 Thu May 04, 2006 at 12:51:27 AM EST
is adherence to USian principles. The way strong, independently-minded people faced by adversity will stand up and to the American thing and make money out of a tragedy.

Herring - Official HuSi diarist of the 2016 European Korfball Championship (October 22nd, Dordrecht, Netherlands)
It was pretty amazing by lm (2.00 / 0) #9 Thu May 04, 2006 at 04:21:33 AM EST
On 9/11 pieces of the World Trade Center were up on eBay before the sun had set on NYC.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Movie Review: United 93 | 11 comments (11 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback