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United 93 (DVD)
Member Name: Essexgirl2006
United 93 (DVD)
Advantages: Non-exploitative, moving, informative tribute
Disadvantages: Not happy with some of the assumpions made.
The film sets the scene early on in the morning of September 11th as we see the pilots and passengers leaving for the airport and boarding the plane. Greengrass goes to great lengths to set the scene through phone calls and conversations with loved ones. We are introduced to nearly all the people on the flight (I cannot bring myself to call them characters) through their ID cards and their names on their boarding cards as they go through the machine. However this is too early in the film to remember exactly who they are.
The flight commences uneventfully (albeit late) and we see a bit of what is happening back on the ground as family members watch events unfold in New York, and the pilots getting messages from the air traffic control warning of cockpit invasions and the crashes into the World Trade Centre. In spite of this they let the hi-jackers in (I don't imagine I was alone in shouting "No!" at the TV, as futile as it was) with very little pressure, in spite of a flight attendant under threat. This is one assumption I found hard to take, that the pilots were aware of the risk, yet caved in seemingly so easily and opened the cockpit door. Once the plane is hi-jacked we see a little of the terrorists, and see that the 'pilot' is not very competent. I am not sure whether that is based on an educated guess from information given by air traffic control, or just how Greengrass wanted to play it.
Generally the depiction of the characters and events seem authentic and 'real', the actors are not known names, and it appears they took the time to meet family members and understand the people they are portraying. The emphasis is in making them seem like regular people like you, and your family or friends, having found themselves in a nightmare situation. I found it very easy to empathise with the passengers and crew, for although I have never been in that situation, they have depicted the story so realistically (based on prior knowledge of events) that you can understand how they feel as they exchange phone calls and the full gravity of the situation dawns on them. I am sure I am not alone in wondering how I would react if it was me, and it is certainly a tribute to those on board that decided they were going to attempt to take the plane. Again, the exact nature of this is open to interpretation, but I feel the portrayal of this aspect of events makes sense and is realistic.
There have been some criticism as to whether this film should ever be made, but I feel you cannot ignore history, nor forget it. If that was the case films like Schindler's List and The Pianist depicting the holocaust in World War Two would never have been made, and equally that is something we should not forget nor let happen again. The film is in no way exploitative of the events and the people involved, but in fact, comes across more as a tribute. If you watch this you obviously need to be prepared for all the emotions of sadness and anger that you would expect, but at the same time there is a positive vibe, over the support that other human beings are able to give to strangers, even when in need of help themselves. The film is very understated, and it seems to me has been made as re-enactment (I hesitate to use the word 'dramatisation' as it makes it sound more over-done - the story doesn't really need more drama) for posterity rather than a desire to garner awards and accolades.
There are some effects in the film, and they seem to be very well done and convincing. If there was music in the middle of the film, I didn't notice it, only the haunting flute piece played over the closing credits.
The filmmakers donated a percentage of opening weekend profits to the Pennsylvania memorial to this plane. This totaled over US$1 million. All the deceased crew and passengers (excluding the terrorists) have their names listed at the end of the film as a tribute.
I watched this film as part of my online DVD rental service. There were no extras on this copy (what are they going to put on - 'comedy' out-takes?!), but should you wish to purchase this DVD, there are some very reasonable offers available on the web.
Summary: A re-enactment of events of September 11th 2001.