Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Never too soon to remember the past

United 93
Directed by: Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Supremacy)
Starring: A bunch of people you won’t recognize

It’s too soon! It’s too soon! It’s too soon!

Oh, shut up. There will never be a “right” time that would please the masses as no two people have the same mourning process. For me in particular, September 11th will always remain a deep wound to my soul and psyche, a day which catapulted me into the real world and out of the self indulgent fantasy I was living.

I’m not saying that we need to go into production the day after a major event transpires, but then again…why not? In the preservation of history the one thing that always blurs the lines is time. We wait so long that details are forgotten, memories faded, and suddenly we’ve got people fighting over what really happened.

I think five years is a good wait and it’s time to start putting these films out. When I think of how I felt on September 11th and, most importantly, how I felt when watching people’s reactions to it, I think that we all need a good reminder of what that event has meant to this country and the world at large.

While the nation is deeply emblazoned in war due to the flaming turmoil in the middle east and so many crying for peace when they don’t even understand what war is, it’s time to give them a wake up call they’ll understand…unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view) this wake up call will come in the form of movies.

Personally, I’m looking forward to the OEF/OIF war movies, and hopefully we’ll get a filmmaking team with balls and integrity to tackle it (and if we don’t, then yours truly will do everything he can to make sure those that served get a just portrait onscreen). Why do we always try to bury the past and forget the lessons we have learned? Because it’s SO hard? Come on.

I have spoken to a lot of people about war and politics and continuously find that the majority are completely misinformed and have never researched the events they claim to know so much about. Unfortunately, most people’s opinions and viewpoints are dictated to them from CNN and MSNBC headlines…They’ve never taken the steps to learn more about the world in which they live in beyond the fruitless headlines.

What United 93 represents is a call to detail, a call to attention, and a call of rememberence.

United 93 is an important film.

The only way to describe the film is INTENSE. My heart was beating fast throughout, even though I knew the outcome, I knew the ending, it didn’t matter. The old feelings came back and it reminded me of why I joined the military and why it’s worth the fight.
The film begins with the terrorists of Flight 93 preparing, praying, and shaving the night before and then just kicks the day off, like any other day. People make small talk and go about their business. There’s no grandstanding or scene stealing. It’s as if the director, Paul Greengrass, put a camera crew on that plane on September 11th.

What surprised me was the scenes of the air traffic controllers and every other agency that monitors the skies, working together and figuring out what the hell was going on. I wasn’t there, obviously, so I can only say that it felt absolutely true to how it was. From what I understand, Greengrass pieced the film together through all the facts that we have of that day, which, surprisingly, can nearly be accounted for minute-by-minute due to the varied pieces of equipment that captured it: photos, surveillance cams, flight recorders, cell phone calls, air traffic control, etc.

You feel the frustration and intensity as planes are suddenly not responding to their controllers, confusion is rabid as each agency shares information and tries to piece together just what the hell is going on. Because I am ignorant of how all things FAA and agencies of the sky work, I can only assume, based on seeing this, that they did everything they could have done at that time.

If it were post 9/11, those fucking planes would have been shot down, no doubt. But, what people must understand about that day was that America had NEVER seen an event transpire like it. EVER. Even though they later go authorization to hammer down and shoot the planes out of the sky it was too late.

Frustration is something I think many people will feel throughout this film, but you must take into account where this country was on that day and not where it is now. Most likely every person acted to the best of their ability given the time and the scenario.

While the air agencies bounce back and forth on the first two planes hijacked, Flight 93 carries on like normal. However, the terrorists (all sitting in first class) are edgy and wide-eyed, nervous, and anxious, ready to pounce. You feel that anxiety throughout every second before they make their move. You know what’s coming, you just wish that there was something that could’ve been done.

And then it happens. The first plane hits the WTC and the scramble begins. What the fuck is going on? Was it an accident? Was it intentional? Watching the different agencies try to figure out what’s happening feels so true to how things work. We have all encountered these things in our lives. We look back on big events and nit pick on how we could’ve done it better. These guys never had that chance.

When the terrorists finally make their move on Flight 93 it is pure and unrelenting intensity. My heart was on fire. You feel these people’s pain and fear and terror. Never have any of these people thought about or prepared for such an event.

As a soldier, I could easily tell you what I’d do right now if that happened on my flight. But if I were on that flight at that time, I couldn’t tell you exactly what I’d do. I know I’d fight, but I sure wouldn’t have a plan of action like I would now. And why? Because I have the benefit of both what these people went through and military training. And I wouldn’t have had military training if these people hadn’t gone through what they did on that day.

They have very little time. They start calling home and you fear for each and every one of them. They are young, old, male, female, black, white, all races, religions, etc. They are people in a serious fucking situation. When they discover what has happened at the WTC they put it together. They know what’s coming.

One by one, they begin to form a small group of men, band together and prepare to take the fight to the cockpit. They find a man onboard that has flown small engine planes before and prepare him to jump in and take over the controls.

Then, with great courage and ferocity, they attack, taking out one of the terrorists who was holding a fake bomb and then chasing down the others to the cockpit. The terrorists inside the cockpit, seeing that they are about to be overrun, begin to turn the plane (all of this can be read on the flight recorder transcripts, which you can find online) making it difficult for the passengers to get in.

They are so close and I have no doubt that the passengers truly made it that far as in the film, especially after reading the transcripts. They struggle all the way to the ground, when the terrorists realize that they’ll never make their target and simply crash the plane.

To me, this was a film about a country losing its innocence and waking up from a nightmare to a whole new world. The emotions, the reactions, the fear, the sadness, and the tragedy, and ultimately, the courage of those that sought to begin the fight against terrorism on the very day that it decided to declare war is beyond admirable.

This film conveys every emotion you most likely felt on September 11th 2001. It reaches a level of intensity that I don’t think I’ve ever felt before when watching a movie.

This isn’t a movie that you’re going to pop into the DVD player to enjoy on a Friday night, any more so than say, Schindler’s List. This is something so much more. It’s a testament, it’s a historical document to an extent, and it glamorizes nothing. It tells the story as best as it can with the information we have and it takes you back to that day as if it were this morning.

It’s a shame that more people don’t flock to the theaters to see a film of this magnitude and importance but will go in droves to be lectured and lied to by the bloated moron Michael Moore, with his deranged, uninformed, pieces of heresay garbage on celluloid.



Mr. Boy said...

Part of me feels that it's inappropriate to use words like "teriffic" and "mind-blowing" to describe a movie like this -- but then I remember -- it's a movie, a great movie, a fitting tribute to the memories of those who's lives were affected by the hijacking of UA93, and a reminder of how precious our freedom is.

Greengrass does such a brilliant job of building tension and luring you toward the final moments of the film, that at one point I (albeit about half-a-second) I actually thought, "Man, these guys are gonna' make it!"

I felt like I was storming the cockpit with them.

It wasn't an "easy" movie to watch by any means; I found myself all choked up on more than one occasion.

I never want to imagine myself or anyone close to me ever having to experience something like that.

I can't fathom what it must be like to tell your mother, spouse, brother, sister, etc "I love you" for the last time -- to feel cheated; to feel like I've had my life stolen from me.

This is, indeed, an important film.

Emotionally, I relived the pain, fear, and confusion that hit me hard during the 911 tragedy -- not full blown of course -- but I remember the day, the phone call telling me to turn on the TV, sitting on the edge of the couch with you and Cherie for hours wondering "what the fuck just happened!?!?!"

I remember feeling helpless, and hoping that it wasn't really as big a deal as it was -- that somehow the situation would resolve itself because "nah, that could never happen to America."

I've noticed the difference in who I am now and how the days that followed 911, in certain ways, set me on the path that I walk today.

This truly is an important film as it reminds us that everything you know, everything you are, can change in an instant.

Life is precious -- and has a hell of a lot more to deal with than Paris Hilton and her wacky shenannigans.

I wish more people would realize that. (and I too wish more people would find it in themselves to watch United 93)


I can't find a Haji bootleg of this film yet, so I can't comment on it directly. But I will say this.

Those that say it's "too soon" to be reminded of that day are really saying that they want to forget about it entirely like it never happened. They know that what is going on in the world today is directly linked to that very day and they don't like it. They want it all to go away so they can go back to their fairy tale life of make believe where radical Islamists aren't plotting ways to kill westerners and the clock to something even far worse isn't already ticking.

That's why people remember the last administration so fondly. Not because it was competent (it wasn't), but because they allowed us all to continue rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic without feeling guilty about it.

The War on Terror began in 1979. We only started fighting back in 2001. That's two decades of childish irresponsibility on everyone's part. That's what they want to forget.

9/11 made reluctant grownups of half the country. The rest, it just cemented their perpetual adolescence.

Besides, how can it be too soon for a film about 9/11 when we all watched it LIVE ON TELEVISION? The real tragedy is that the networks have all but refused to replay it since.

*In case you haven't seen it, I highly recommend National Geographic's "Inside 9/11", a two-disc documentary covering literally every single known detail that was even remotely tied to that collosal event. And the ties go back years. Should be mandatory viewing in every school.