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United 93 (2006)

2006-10-02 2 min read Movies marco

There’s a movie that didn’t quite have the success it was designed for. United 93 is a docudrama about the plane that was hijacked, but whose passengers managed to neutralize the terrorists. In the end, the plane crashes on a field in Pennsylvania; despite the tragedy, the heroic effort of the crew and passengers saved possibly thousands of lives.

The problem with 9/11 movies is that the events of that day unfolded in a way that has etched memories for a lifetime. Everyone that has experienced 9/11 has very personal experiences of the horror we all felt, every one of us in our own way. The depth of the emotions that day can evoke in me is beyond my own comprehension.

How can a movie reach that? I think of the day, and an infinite sorrow envelops me – seeing the tragedy unfold, unable to believe anyone would do something as stupid as sending thousands of innocents to their certain death for nothing but ideological reasons.

United 93 quite can’t compare. It is a docudrama, and does a pretty good job at retelling the events of the day. It is very focused on event, though: nothing is retold of the motivations of the hijackers, and we end up knowing nothing about those that died. I believe this is the biggest shortfall of the movie: we end up not feeling much for the random bunch of people that die – unlike in real life.

The movie, on the other hand, spends way too much time in ground control and military air command. A few scenes would have sufficed, to tell us how things looked like from the ground, to explain what happened. But as told, this movie comes nowhere close to my own memories.

I once saw this documentary: two French guys following a fire station in Manhattan, who ended up being on the truck that drove to the towers. I think they died in the attack, but left behind the probably best movie about 9/11. I remember when you heard thuds in the background; loud thuds, far away, while the smoke and dust obscured the camera. Maybe the cameraman, maybe a subtitle informs us that each thud was a human body hitting the ground, dead on impact.

That’s what 9/11 meant to me. Bodies hitting the ground, instant cadavers for no reason at all. This movie seems to be afraid to show the senselessness of it all, and that’s maybe why it fails.