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I saw this at a special screening. I have not stopped thinking about it
since. A emotional and powerful film that I will remember forever. I
can't fault anyone who doesn't want to see this film. But please put to
rest any fears that this film was made purely to turn a profit and
serves no purpose.
For all those who were afraid that this film would be exploitive, propaganda filled Hollywood schlock, I'm sorry to say that could not be farther from the truth.
Though for the most part I'm still at a loss for words I'll do my best to give you a short and sweet overview.
Paul Greengrass has done the seemingly impossible by making a Hollywood film about this subject everyone is afraid to touch, but made it in such a way that it's hard to find fault, despite everyone's initial misgivings. No 'rah rah' patriotism. No veiled political stances. No cartoonish villains. No making the enemy sympathetic. Just a brilliantly executed look at what did happen and what 'might' have happened on that fateful day.
What makes it more effective is that all throughout you don't recognize any of the actors. They may as well be "real people". You're never thinking to yourself, 'oh that's Nicolas Cage', conscious of the fact that it's acting. And come to find out, many of the air traffic controllers and military personnel are playing themselves! This makes it all the more real and draws you in and takes you back to that day.
And when the passengers decide to fight back? There's no swelling of violins or slow motion shots. They don't have a rallying cry or 'lets do it for Uncle Sam' type speech to motivate everyone. No, these passengers were reacting spontaneously to the situation as it played out and were acting on their survival instinct. You can't help but think how you would react in that situation and makes it all the more compelling and powerful.
I won't say this film is for everyone. It IS hard to watch at times. But I'm so glad I did see it. Very cathartic in a way. And trust me, this film couldn't have been done in a more professional, classy way. This feels genuine; of course they are going to 'profit' off it, but you get the sense that the filmmakers and everyone involved poured their hearts into this project and did this to tell a story. A more dignified and heroic story I don't think I've ever seen.
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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When this film was over a silence hung over the theater unlike any I
had ever heard. My eyes watered as I left the hall, and I said a quick
prayer as I exited; simply in honor of all the people who died on
There is a sequence in this film where the passengers are portrayed praying, as are the terrorists. The languages and prayers are spliced together through a series of short scenes that depict the emotional impact that everyone was feeling.
That is what this movie is about. It does not deal with conspiracy theories. In fact, to do so would be more untrue than any other lie that the film-makers have been accused of telling. This movie is about what the people around the country were feeling as the tragedy of that day unfolded. No one was sitting there thinking, 'I wonder if our government was in on this?' All the people on that plane were thinking of only one thing: survival. That is what this movie portrays, and it addresses several themes in doing so, such as god, faith, unity, and the will to survive. These are not 'American' themes. They are human themes. The terrorists in the film are not portrayed in a horrible, demonizing light. In fact, the audience is ushered to feel sympathy for them in certain scenes. This movie was not made as propaganda, or as a means to make money. If one simply views the film, this becomes apparent. If any 9/11 movie is an attempt to make money, I would say it is Stone's 'World Trade Center.' This film was a prayer, not propaganda, and not propagating falsities. It was something that came from the heart, and after viewing the intense performances and believably real reactions, that also becomes apparent.
This movie approaches an incredibly sensitive subject in an entirely
appropriate manner: with subtlety and understatement.
The actors look like real people and talk like real people talk. There are no dramatic exclamations. Even the signature "Let's roll" line is stated almost in passing without any special significance being brought to it. The movie was utterly convincing in portraying how real people would have responded. There were no Bruce Willis or Wesley Snipe types amongst the passengers; they were ordinary folk in extraordinary situations, responding the best way they could.
Kudos to the filmmakers for not allowing this to become an overwrought melodrama. Instead, we saw a glimpse into the confusion and pain of people in the middle of the events of 9/11. Because it was understated, because it felt real, the impact was much stronger and gut-wrenching.
A most cathartic experience came over me when I viewed the much
publicized "United 93". At once speculative and realistic, the
111-minute film will surely bring back the pall of fatalistic
inevitability one feels about 9/11, but its more defining
characteristic is revealing the untapped heroism and humanism of people
caught in the most malevolent of circumstances. Masterfully written and
directed by Paul Greengrass, this relentlessly intense movie covers
that fateful morning when United Airlines Flight 93 departed Newark for
San Francisco with 33 passengers and seven crew members on board.
As it turns out, Greengrass's heavy background in documentaries turns out to be a blessing in this treatment, as he tracks the subsequent events in real time and uses either under-the-radar actors or actual aviation personnel to play the real-life characters. Instead of focusing on the higher profile passengers to provide an emotional locus, which a more commercial filmmaker would have done, he encompasses all the passengers within the emotional purview of the film, including the four hijackers who killed the pilots and took control of the plane. The key dramatic difference is that we get to know not the people but the situation at hand. Consequently, we get a more realistic sense of the scale of the events that may have occurred on that flight. That's not to say it is any less devastating. In fact, the last half-hour is harrowing in the most personal sense as the inevitable becomes reality.
The power of the film comes from its surprisingly apolitical perspective and the inclusion of the ground personnel trying to comprehend the scope of all the redirected planes that day, in particular, Ben Sliney who effectively plays himself that day, the just-promoted supervisor of the National Air Traffic Control Center in Herndon, Va. None of the actors stand out because the film cumulatively achieves a verisimilitude that simply knocks me out. The film also does not pretend to be the definitive version of what happened on the last few moments of the flight. In an emotional sense, it is rather moot as we are talking about degrees of detail at that point. This is truly essential viewing.
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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Never has a movie stunned me as much as "United 93". I was literally
shaking during the final minutes of the film. Even though I knew the
outcome I tried to fight it. I kept yelling under my voice "come on
guys, PUSH PUSH..., KEEP FIGHTING". But unfortunately none of us can
escape the eventual tragedy. I didn't leave the auditorium until the
final credits ended. When I walk out of the theater, I felt like I felt
on that dreadful day of September 11th, 2001...Numb.
Paul Greengrass's film in no way exploits, sensationalizes or points fingers about what happened that day. There's no undertones or overtones. This the most respectful film i've ever seen. "Shindler's List" and "Saving Private Ryan" come to mind when I think about impact and power. But both Spielberg's film's followed the film-making standards of; three acts, character development etc. Greengrass throws us into the events of 9/11/01 as if it were happening right now. In fact, we never even really get introduced the the people on the flight. All we know is that whatever happened on that plane was shear terror. And from that terror hero's rose and fought back.
I live in Southern California and even though the events of 9/11 happened across the country and didn't affect me directly, I still am shakken by the events. Where I live, most people have forgotten. It's a time in history I will never forget and dread every single day. I can only imagine what the families of the victims live with everyday.
"United 93" was the most challenging film I've ever watched. It's not a popcorn flick and should not be seen for entertainment. It's a personal choice to see this film, in my opinion. But whatever you do never forget September 11th, 2001; it's victims and Hero's
Frozen, speechless, devastated. That's how I was at the end of the film and judging by the silence in the auditorium the whole audience felt the same. A remarkable achievement. Not a single cheap shot. Knowing, as we all know, what happened on that fatal September 11th. The time lapse between the first plane hitting the World Trade center and the second seemed interminable. The faces of the passengers, without even knowing their names, are still vivid in my mind. Extraordinary. Not to mention the terrorist's faces. So real, so human. Tears were running down my face as a chill run down my spine witnessing the terrorists as well as the passengers praying. God, seen through a different optical at different times for exactly the same reasons. The brave decision of the passengers to die trying to protect all of us is something that we in the ground we seem to have forgotten. We could all stand together as well in everybody's name for everybody's good. You see, here I am, inspired and aspiring to inspire.
I was nervous to see any movie on September 11th due to the fact that
in some ways I felt that it was too soon, seeing how we just had the
5th anniversary. Not to mention, I didn't want to go through that
depression again and watch those horrifying events happen again, a girl
at work had mentioned how she saw United 93 and World Trade Center, she
said it was nothing like what you would expect of an action movie, it's
more dedicated to those who lost their lives that tragic day.
United 93 is a truly inspiring tale about the 4th hijacked plane that crashed in Pennsylvania. I remember seeing this on the news on September 11th, we heard so many different things, that it was shot down, the passengers gained on the hijackers, and to be honest I'd rather believe that the passengers stuck together and prevented more lives from being perished that day. These people were truly incredible and the thing that I loved about the film was that it was made to show that they were not victims, they chose to not be so, they knew what they were facing and unfortunately died trying.
Another thing that I appreciated is that I think we did forget about those planes that were hijacked and the horror that the passengers must have gone through. We usually only think of the World Trade Centers when we think of September 11th. I could never imagine what thoughts were racing through those passenger's heads. It truly was devastating to just think what the families were going through when they received phone calls from their loved one's and having to say good bye. We can't forget those who were so brave to help others and those who unfortunately who crashed into the World Trade Center and Pentegon, nothing could be strong enough to say about them, my sincere condolences to the families.
I was wrong about these films, they truly are important. Even though it's fresh in most of our memories, let's not forget those who died trying to save others. God bless the souls on Flight United 93, you truly are hero's and will never be forgotten.
In 'United 93' we take a look at what might have happen to United
flight 93 on September 11th. Of the aircraft that were hijacked on
September 11th, only United flight 93 did not reach its intended
target. This is the story about the events leading up to the hijacking
and about the people who tried to save United flight 93.
At first I did not want to see this film. I had no desire to see someone's interpretation of what happened. However, I am glad I did see it. This is probably one of the most riveting and intense films I have ever seen. It is a little slow at first. But, as you follow the events as they unfold, you become captivating in this movie.
Several people have pointed fingers; wanting to blame someone for what happened. I think the more people that watch this will understand a little more about human nature. I do not think anything could have prevented these tragedies; we can only hope to prevent history from repeating itself.
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