- Directed by Paul Greengrass
- April 28, 2006
This is a dramatic presentation of the real-life events of United 93 which was the only plane on September 11th to not reach its target.
As stated this film dramatically presents the story of the one flight that did not reach its target. This is done with an eye towards being respectful of events. The fictionalization of elements of the story appears minimal and taken from what can be logically extrapolated from the 9/11 Commission Report. The story occurs in mostly real time with the reality being escalated with names of individuals being almost never being used.
There are no huge celebrities present in this film. In fact there are no celebrities in this film. I recognized maybe three actors in this movie, and none were big names. A major star or stars or even someone of some kind of renown would have detracted from the realism that Greengrass was going for. You could not cast a Brad Pitt or even a Swoosie Kurtz in any part here. They would have been instantly recognized. Swoosie Kurtz is a face you know but probably not a name you know. The three unknowns I noted only jumped out at me because I coincidentally watched three different things with each of them in not that long ago. And I know their faces but not their names.
In some instances the real individuals played themselves in this. Also real flight crews were played by real flight crews. I wonder how much their performances were colored by what they did for a living and thinking it could have been them that day.
There is very little music in United 93. There are plenty of films that dramatically present historical events, but they tend to have plenty of music going on in the background. Not so much here. There is some at the beginning along with a brief score in the midst of the film but other than that nothing. This makes you feel as if you are there watching events as they unfold as a powerless observer.
Despite knowing the outcome here, you will be stuck sucked in until the end. There is no pulling yourself back. You feel for these people, and you want a different finale than what history dictates. Under the direction of Greengrass, the largely inexperienced cast turned in riveting performances.
The ending is just striking. There is chaos and then nothing. The film just stops and you know they have crashed. This style usually does not work but that is the resolution of the movie. In real life that is how the situation was solved.
United 93 is not meant to lift your spirits but rather to demonstrate the heroism that occurred on that flight that day. These were ordinary people who knew their lives were over and chose to act because they knew if they did not many more people were going to die. They rose to the occasion in their final moments.
United 93 is a hard film to watch. Not because it’s a poor quality film but because of what an emotional punch it has. It tells of a group of strangers that came together on a dark day to do what had to be done. This is a movie that everyone should see.