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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
There are two reasons why people go to the movies. They either go to be amused, entertained or distracted from the pressures of the real world; it's called escapism. The other is to learn, experience, educate, inform and face what our world is all about. Films like Schindler's List, Black Hawk Down, Saving Private Ryan, All the President's Men, and this week another film joins that list; Paul Greengrass' visceral and heartbreaking United 93. Some say it's too soon for a film about 9/11 to come out, but I disagree. I think this film is a bold and important reminder of why we're still fighting to this very day, and it puts us up close and personal with our very enemy; face to face. I don't think I've had such a profound and sober movie going experience like this since I saw The Passion of the Christ, and when the film was over how did the audience react? Applause.
United 93 is shot entirely with hand-held cameras to perfectly capture the realism of the events that happened that day. The film was written and directed by British filmmaker Paul Greengrass, who's previous films include 2004's blockbuster hit The Bourne Supremacy and the critically acclaimed 2002 docu-drama Bloody Sunday, and every frame of his vision is unflinching, intense and heart pounding from it's quiet beginning to it's nerve-wracking and stomach turning finale. The film is never exploitive of the events of 9/11 and always remains respectful to the memories of those on board that fateful plane.
Everybody knows the story, and everybody knows how it's going to end, but that never stops the film from being suspenseful. The film is pretty much void of any character development, and the film never, not even for a second feels like a movie, it looks like a documentary. And I'm sure the way Greengrass has captured the shock, confusion, chaos and panic of that morning is how it must have gone down. The cameras cover the action from all perspectives; from the National Air Traffic Control Center, airport towers, regional air traffic stations, and a military command room where soldiers try to figure out if and when they have the authority to shoot down a necessary target in order to protect Washington. One of the amazing things about United 93 is its casting. The casting of the film includes a number of real life United pilots, stewardesses, air traffic controllers and military personnel, many of them actually playing themselves. The cast of passengers are a group of largely unknowns, which lends great respectability and reality. We are seeing these people for the first time, with no previous knowledge of them as actors and it only works in their favor.
The film opens quietly with several hijackers going through their morning rituals, reading aloud from the Koran; praying to God and kneeling on the floor of their hotel room and then packing their things to head to the Newark airport. And from there we are introduced to several different air traffic controller technicians and we watch as they discover that two planes have been hi-jacked and eventually discover that they've hit the World Trade Center. These scenes are heartbreaking and feel somewhat surreal. But it's not until United flight 93 takes off that the towers are hit and the plane is up in the air when the terrorist's plans are set into motion.
The final fifteen minutes of United 93 will leave you speechless and paralyzed, as a group of passengers plan to attack and over throw the terrorists and try to take back the cockpit. It's intense, violent and overwhelmingly inspiring. The film is a well done memorial, dedicated to those who were killed on September 11th, and I truly believe that the film was done with the utmost respect to those involved and with amazing passion and sensitivity to "get it right". Director Paul Greengrass does get it right, and I honestly believe that it would have been impossible for it to have been done any better than it is here. United 93 is absolutely amazing, and to see a better or more important film this year seems very unlikely, and I think this film should be required viewing for all Americans, but when they feel that they are ready for it, because this is as real as it gets. This film is responsible film-making of the highest level and the experience is both sobering and cathartic.
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