Friday, May 05, 2006

A Rare Movie Outing

I went out to see United 93 this afternoon, alone. Two thumbs up, although I was fidgeting like a kid late for the potty much of the way through. I had watched the Discovery Channel docu-drama, The Flight That Fought Back at home, and paced the living room the whole time. Moistened up at both films, too.

My cinematic tastes are a bit old-fashioned, I guess. The herky-jerky shoulder-mounted camera work, used throughout, was effective in the dramatic scenes, but the rest of the time it just reminded me of early MTV videos. And we didn't get any character development of the passengers, given the you-are-there POV. (The Discover Channel's film was much more informative--and therefore poignant--because of the relatives' onscreen interviews).

Not surprisingly, most of the acting is a series of reaction shots. The growing horror of the flight controllers as the attacks multiply is possibly the best thing about the film. That guy playing himself as the top civil aviation cheese was especially good, vis-a-vis that.

It ends too abruptly for me, with a POV shot of the plane crashing. I mentally filled in some coda scenes, like someone looking up from his work at the sound of the crash, and seeing the mushroom cloud rising over the countryside. Or more scenes of muddle at NORAD and other ATC centers, as they try to catch up with events. Or the congressional staffers being evacuated from the Capitol, later realizing that the Flight 93 passengers have saved their lives. But the film instead ends along with the lives of all aboard the flight.

So, considered in a vacuum, it's a quote pretty good film unquote. Given the political climate in Hollywood, it's a near miracle. Recall, please: the first thing the film industry did after 9/11 was alter or delay all the major projects that showed Arabs as terrorists. Then they & the liberal news media got to work giving that celluloid string of lies Fahrenheit 9/11 a big launch.

The terrorists in United 93, though they are shown praying and trying to keep down the butterflies in their stomachs, are clearly presented as evil. There's no social commentary at all--nor any shying away from the Islam element-- unless it was woven in too symbolically for me to catch it at first viewing. It's a straightforward tale of professional people being blindsided by catastrophe, and ordinary people called to do heroic things, and sacrificing themselves in the process.

I have a feeling this film is only the beginning of what will turn into a legend, in the best senses of that word.

1 comment:

  1. I actually grew up in Los Angeles. Trust me, the people that control movie scheduling---the producers and studio heads---could care less about politics. They have a fervent alliegence to making lots and lots of money. That's about it.

    If they altered or delayed all movies involving Arab terrorists, it's because they made a coldly calculated decision that for a year or two after 9/11 Americans wanted escapism, or that the protests would hurt their film's box office receipts.

    Hollywood actors and screenwriters are indeed often (but hardly always---Reagan, Schwarzenegger, and Gibson come immediately to mind) very liberal. The producers are just greedy and paranoid. It's not surprising given the nature of their business---they make a dozen or so films a year, most of which lose lots and lots of money. If they're very lucky, one makes such vast quantities of money that it pays for all the rest. Otherwise, they're fired and someone else tries the same game. It's not a job that tends to lead to sanity.


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