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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Flight 93

A few weeks ago, when I saw Spike Lee’s new movie, I also first saw the trailer for United 93. It took me a moment to realize what I was watching, and then, in a way I didn’t expect, I started reacting physically to the images. My breathing stepped up a touch, my hands clenched, my eyes widened--it was far a far more visceral response than I would have imagined.

I’ve talked to a few people about the upcoming movie since then and nearly every one had a variant of “it’s too soon” come out of their mouths. This either immediately followed or immediately preceded a variant of “but I really have to see it"--which is the kind of confused response that an emotionally charged, controversial film is bound to have. I think it also tells us that it isn’t too soon if the movie has been done right. Americans are obsessed with the events of 9/11--that day has dominated our country spiritually, politically, and culturally. It’s a rare contemporary movie, album, speech, or television show that avoids referencing either the events or the fallout.

United 93 is just an extension--a logical extension aiming to deal with one of the key events of our national tragedy--of the thoughts that have been running through almost all of our minds. Thoughts about terrorism, fear, bravery, and what it will take to set our world back right.

There are so many ways to get this movie wrong (it could be a melodramatic study of an already overwhelmingly emotional subject, it could make excuses for a horrific act of terrorism, or it could, in a Pearl Harbor-style maneuver, insert a wholly unnecessary love story) and one way to get it right: being honest, unadorned, sober, and true to the horror of the day. Honor the bravery of the passengers and the loss that their loved ones must still feel.

Done well, United 93 could remind us of that terrible day in 2001 that brought us to where we are today: in a difficult war, hotly divided politically, and facing a future that requires more patience and strength of will than my generation ever expected to need. A somewhat isolationist President, set against the idea of nation building and planning to keep America’s eyes turned inward, was transformed into a man who believes that the demands of our time involve transforming an entire region of the world both politically and culturally through a mix of military power, economic inducement, strong diplomacy, and a faith in the universal desire of people to be free.

I actually hope that United 93 will be a reminder of not only 9/11 but also of all of the successes, mistakes, frustrations, and hopes that, woven together, make up the fabric of the entire world since that date.

And, yes, barring warnings from trusted friends, I will be seeing United 93.

Update: Further thoughts from De Doc and De Deb.

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I won’t be seeing this, unless I ftp a stolen copy of it.  I can’t get past the obscenity of leftist hollywood deriving profiting from 9/11, not even 5 years after the event.  If they were donating movie revenues to the victims’ kids or something, then I’d consider it.  But otherwise, forget it.

on Apr 21 2006 @ 05:19 AM

I saw a documentary about this move. The people who made the movie worked very closely with the families of the people who were on the flight, including the wife of the pilot. The director addressed the “it’s too soon” question very directly. He said that he asked those families if it was too soon. They all told him “no” - it was a story that they wanted told and they wanted it told now. As far as I am concerned, the people who lost loved ones on that flight get the final say. I plan to do a little more research on the issue, but if the filmmakers had the support that they indicated from those families and those same families vouch for the content, then I will go see the movie, and pass judgement afterwards.

on Apr 21 2006 @ 06:20 AM

I was just thinking about this the other day, and I came to the conclusion that if I were the family member of a person who died on one of the other flights that day, I’d be feeling a little dissed by all this focus on Flight 93.

Not saying that is the right emotion to have, but it’s definitely one that I would be having.

on Apr 21 2006 @ 06:04 PM
No; It’s Not Too Early
If professors of history can be so smug, so cavalier as to try and pass judgment on a presidency without even waiting for the incumbent’s term to complete … violating, thereby, a basic historians’ tenet that no good historical judgmen...
Apr 21 2006 @ 06:21 PM

Well Bob, I just saw something on TV that made it look like Universial will be donating 10% of the opening weekend recipts. I’ll see you at the theater.

on Apr 30 2006 @ 12:19 PM
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