Normally a filmmaker would be devastated if their movie was greeted with silence and sobs. But when it’s the first movie to be made about 9/11, it’s a form of acclaim. That was the response to a new movie, United 93, which got a fantastic reaction at New York’s Tribeca Film Festival. It’s evidently strong stuff – look at the smoking buildings on the skyline at the bottom of this image. Even depicting the towers is usually taboo these days.
But if Vietnam is any guide, this is just the first of a plethora of painful re-enactment movies as America grapples with the legacy of “the day the world changed”. The only problem is that I can’t think of anything I’d less like to spend two hours in a cinema watching.
The tale of how the passengers on United flight 93 revolted, causing their hijackers to crash the plane into a field in Pennsylvania instead of the Pentagon or White House – you know, “let’s roll” and all that – is certainly an inspiring story of heroism.
But I just figure I’ve seen enough images of 9/11. The real images are so vivid in my memory that I’ve no wish to augment them with fictionalised ones, even of the high quality that this movie evidently is. I watched it all unfold live on CNN, and seeing the towers collapse with the realisation that hundreds of people were dying right before my eyes counts as the most awful, upsetting thing I can remember.
That night, the familiar scenes of Hollywood disaster movies became horribly real on our screens. (Am I the only one who still shudders in recollection every time filmmakers destroy NYC with CGI again in movies like The Day After Tomorrow?) Now, reflexively, Hollywood’s making a fictional version of the real-life disaster movie.
Watching the trailer provides an excellent introduction to the film’s very realistic documentary style, the facts laid bare. We see the familiar banality of air travel, interrupted by disaster.
But looking at the film’s beautifully designed website, with a map of events accompanied by the warbling of an Enya clone, reiterates how much I don’t want to put myself through this film. You can see the snapshots of the tense pilots as they learn about the WTC crashes. You can see the fear on the faces of the passengers, and you can see the hijackers. Everyone knows what happens, and everyone knows it’s awful. I really don’t need to see that redramatised. I already know what those emotions are like.
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Speaking of falling from the sky – yeah, that’s a pretty tacky, tenuous link, sorry about that – I want to pass on one of the greatest email forwards I’ve ever seen. This President Bush animation has given me hours of satisfaction so far – apparently it’s the most popular screensaver in the US. And the great thing is that his poll numbers are falling even faster because of what he did in response to this day – drop bombs on Iraq. You’d think these events would have made the Americans reluctant about airborne explosions, wouldn’t you?
Oh sorry, I’m “politicising” people’s deaths again – some of the commenters will be upset. Apparently you’re only allowed to do that when you advocate invasions.
Anyway, wild horses couldn’t drag me to go and see United 93. Anyone planning to put themselves through it?