Thursday, May 11, 2006

United 93

Well, I finally went to see it tonight. I've linked to Roger Ebert's review of it before, and I find myself in agreement on every detail. It was technically perfect--the combination of handheld camera and grainy film gives a cinema verite character that makes you feel like you are on the plane. For the first minutes, the jerkiness felt uncomfortable, but soon, you don't notice it--but the tension builds as it approaches the awful climax, because you know there is no surprise here. There will be no happy ending, just a heroic one.

There's no flashbacks, or backstory to the characters; in fact, you don't learn the names of any of them, and in most cases, you don't know why they are on the plane. The pieces of dialog that we know about from reading books such as Lisa Beamer's Let's Roll! and from reading the 9/11 Commission Report--are just there. They are not highlighted--just like you were there. We hear Todd Beamer praying with an operator; we hear him say, "Let's roll." But if you aren't paying attention--just as in real life--you'll miss it.

There isn't a single recognizable actor in this film--and it is astonishing what happens when you take away "star power," and instead of seeing some famous actor, who you've seen in a dozen movies, with all the baggage that he carries from those other roles--you just see...someone who was on an airplane, an ordinary person, who fought back in the first battle of World War III.

I've seen it suggested that much of the dialog was improvised. It might well have been; it certainly sounds like the way ordinary people speak--not lines that a screenwriter might create to make us sympathetic, or sorrowful, but the way the real people involved might have spoken.

FAA; the military; the chain of command: they are all trying--and failing. There was clearly no preparation for something like this. Our air defense system was set up for external attack. FAA was not prepared for a hijacking of this type, because there had been no hijacking in at least a decade, and a hijacking like this was simply beyond their imagination. It shouldn't have been, considering that we had sufficient precedent, but in much the same way that militaries usually prepare to fight the last war, our government agencies were prepared to deal with problems that were already familiar.

My wife wouldn't go see United 93; she's a very sensitive soul, and was afraid that it would be too emotionally devastating. It is powerful, but in an understated way. There is blood, but the brutality of the hijackers killing pilots and passengers is more suggested by the quickness of motion than detailed gore. The language is a little raw in places, as you might expect under the circumstances, as military officers and air traffic controllers try to make sense out of isolated facts, and then desperately try to prevent what they believe will be an airliner crash in Washington DC.

This movie doesn't pull any punches. It opens with the hijackers shaving their bodies in ritual purification, and praying for Allah's protection as they prepare to commit mass murder.

This is a war of civilizations. There is no room for negotiation. Islamofascism needs to be completely and utterly destroyed, both in the death of its adherents, and in the humiliation of a political theory that asserts it has a moral superiority that justifies being in complete control of the entire world.

No comments:

Post a Comment