Tuesday, 6 June 2006

United 93

A film about the events of 9/11 was always going to be controversial, no matter who made it or how long they waited. United 93 had the potential to attract more controversy as it focuses on events that no one can really be 100% certain about.

You can say that the film supports a Government approved version of the events. That it acts as a piece of propaganda that makes Americans look like heroes. We can argue for days over who did what or who said this or that.

However as a piece of cinema this film is absolutely outstanding.

The film has received a bit of criticism for making a German passenger look cowardly while the Americans take on the hero roles.

The situation played out on the plane seems logical enough to me. I’m sure there would have been people who wanted to overpower the terrorists, especially when they heard what had happened elsewhere. I’m also sure that there were folk who were just hoping it would all calm down and the plane would land safely.

Remember this was a different time. Hijackings of planes didn’t mean instant death. The assumption that the terrorists could have been reasoned with or if everyone complied they would get out alive would have been the most logical one to take at the beginning.

There is of course artistic licence here and there as in all films of this type. For example the black box indicates that the co-pilot was still alive at the time of the plane’s crash. The film shows him being killed early on.

As a piece of filmmaking it’s brilliant. The tension builds and sticks with you throughout. The film starts off as another mundane regular day, slowly becoming one horror after another as people, affected in different ways, watch with bewilderment and horror, the events unfolding in front of them.

There is nothing sensational about it. Paul Greengrass may well be the best director working who can handle this type of story. The direction is excellent and the fact that there is not a recognisable face among the excellent cast pulls you in to the film’s realistic docu-drama feel. As does the fact that a lot of the major players on the ground, including National Operations Manager for the FAA Ben Sliney, play themselves.

It stands alongside Capote for me as the best film of the year.

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