Movie #72: United 93 (2006)

Director: Paul Greengrass

Starring: Ben Sinley, David Alan Basche, Ray Carleson, J.J. Johnson, Gary Commock, and Tobin Miller

Academy Award Nominations (2007)

Best Achievement in Directing: Paul Greengrass

Best Achievement in Editing:  Clare Douglas, Richard Pearson, Christopher Rouse

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The story of United Airlines flight 93: the fourth aircraft hi-jacked on September 11, 2001.

United 93 is a film that’s still very difficult for me to watch.  While today marks 12 years since the events portrayed in the film originally happened, and I find myself pondering how different life is now.  The events of September 11, 2001 changed how I, and many others, view the world, and a film like United 93 evokes all kinds of emotions to say the least.  I found myself reliving that day from the initial shock and disbelief to the uncertainty that an event like this creates.

Drawing from the firsthand accounts such as the phone calls to family members from passengers on the flight and the air traffic controllers, United 93 unfolds almost in real-time as the hijackings take place, and the unfortunate end to the four hijacked planes.

The film itself: the acting, cinematography and the sort, seems very raw.  It’s very real, and though some production liberties had to be taken (as with any film), this movie does a good job of plainly and simply presenting the facts as best they can.  The film drew praise from many of the passengers relatives, not to mention the critics as well.

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A number of actors portrayed themselves in this film.  Most notably was Ben Sliney, the FAA National Operations Manager, whose first day at that position was September 11, 2001.  The level of authenticity doesn’t get any higher than having those who were actually there.  Pilots and flight attendants were also used in this film.

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I remember seeing this film in the theaters, opening weekend I believe, and when the plane crashes at the end of the film, I’m glad Greengrass chose a black screen, no music, nothing.  Though it only lasted a few seconds, I think doing anything else in this situation with this type of film would only diminish it.  A simple epilogue seemed fitting as well.

Of the films dealing directly with 9/11, United 93 is the only one I’ve seen.  I’m sure World Trade Center was okay, but having big name actors in this type of film just doesn’t work for me.  That is one of the things that sets this film apart.  United 93 is a film I will watch every few years, though I imagine it will be difficult to watch every time.  I’m glad this film was made, and the way in which it was made probably does as great a justice for the victims as a film could do.

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My Rating; 5 out of 5 stars.

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