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On September 11, 2001, two American Airlines and two United Airlines domestic U.S. flights are hijacked by terrorists. After the collision of two planes against the World Trade Center and one against the Pentagon, the passengers and crew of United Flight 93 decide to struggle against the four terrorists to take back the control of the airplane. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
To make the movie as authentic as possible, director Paul Greengrass cast a number of real-life participants in the events of September 11, 2001 to play themselves. The principal "real-life role" in the movie is Ben Sliney, the FAA's National Operations Manager, who made the decision on 9/11 to shut down all air traffic operations in the United States. Sliney had just been promoted to the National Operations Manager position, and September 11, 2001 was his first day on the job. (This explains why he receives applause from the FAA flight monitors when he walks into the control center in Herndon, VA, at the beginning of the movie.) Several officials who were with Sliney in the FAA control room on 9/11 play themselves (including Tobin Miller, Rich Sullivan, and Tony Smith). In the scenes at Newark Airport, several air traffic controllers who were in the Newark control tower on 9/11, and who witnessed the air attacks on the World Trade Center, play themselves. In the scenes at the air traffic monitoring centers in Boston, New York, and Cleveland, the air traffic monitors are all played by real-life air traffic controllers, including several who were at these locations on 9/11, and who monitored the hijacked flights. In the scenes at the Northeast Air Defense Command Center (NEADS) in Rome, NY, most of the military personnel are played by real-life military air traffic controllers, including several people (notably Major James Fox) who were at NEADS on 9/11. Also, on United Flight 93, the actors playing the pilots in the movie are real-life airline pilots, and the stewardesses are played by real airline stewardesses, some of whom actually work for United Airlines. See more »
The UPS airplane shown on the tarmac at Newark Airport is painted with UPS's new logo, which was not introduced until 2003. See more »
I was one of the people who said I wouldn't go see this movie because I felt they were capitalizing on a national tragedy and the trailer gave me nightmares. But, my curiosity got the best of me when I read several positive quotes by numerous critics outside the US. So, I picked up a ticket for the 2:00 show.
There truly are no words to describe the power of this film. The cinematography is excellent, albeit a little unsteady with the shaky lens thing going on. I found that the film very much followed the reports in the 9/11 Commission's book, as well as numerous others. They stuck to the facts and didn't add in any glorified scenes that weren't warranted. You saw the mass confusion as the various air traffic control centers tried to make sense of what was going on. You saw the events on the plane unfold as we think they did that morning. You saw ordinary Americans, scared and frightened, band together and try and keep that plane from hitting another target.
Do we know exactly what was said between people on the planes? No. But there are survivors who had messages from loved ones on their answering machines and people who talked to them that day. The film is a little violent for my tastes, but no more so than any 'Blockbuster' fictional hit out there right now, and this is reality as we know it. Any discrepancies are not for me or you to decide, as those secrets are buried in Pennsylvania.
When it ended, I've never seen a more still theater. You could hear people breathing as they pulled themselves together. This is something that happened to our nation, and while it shouldn't take a movie to make people remember, maybe it does. Maybe we have forgotten or chosen to ignore what happened that day, falling to politics and quick to accuse people who didn't prevent it. Maybe we are against this movie because it makes us uncomfortable, as all meaningful things should. Who knows? Not I.
But, I do know that United 93 was done in a tasteful, respectful manner, and many of the families affected on 9/11 supported its release. Who are we to say otherwise? See the movie and then make your judgment call. You may find yourself surprised, just as I did.
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