Monday, May 01, 2006

United 93

I saw United 93 on Sunday night. And I’m glad I did. It was riveting.

Yes, parts of it made me sad, as all Americans were on 9/11. But underneath that sadness came the usual anger at what the bloodthirsty terrorists had done to us.

The documentary style storytelling of what actually happened inside United 93 was unbelievably tense. And suspenseful. (Yes, suspenseful; though we already knew the outcome of the episode, my wife and I did not of course know what happened inside the plane, as Todd Beamer and other courageous passengers mounted their attack on the terrorist guards in order to get inside the cockpit.)

Writer/director/producer Paul Greengrass’s rendition from interviews with family members and friends of the deceased was absolutely remarkable. So was the whole perspective of that terrible day as seen through the eyes of various civilian air-controllers and the military command center.

At one point, late in the movie, the head air-controller in New York finally said, “Someone is at war with us and we are closing down all flights, domestic and international.” Got that completely right.

The idea that this was war and nothing but war, would of course, later surface in President Bush’s post 9/11 war time strategy. And many of the air controllers (both civilian and military) played themselves, another brilliant idea from Greengrass.

Should this movie have been made now? Is it too soon? Yes, to the first, and no to the second.

As David Beamer (who lost his heroic son Todd on United 93) wrote in the Wall Street Journal recently, this flick is a wake-up call. I wish it had been made earlier.

And the shots of the World Trade Center attacks, both up close and from the distant tower of the Newark air control center, reminded me of this: Why the hell haven’t the quarrelsome, dingbat New York and New Jersey politicians rebuilt those towers?

The Empire State Building was built in one year during the 1930’s.

We will never be whole as New Yorkers or as Americans until those towers are rebuilt.