I saw United 93 on Saturday night. I'll start with a confession. Had MI-3 been starting when I showed up at the theater, I'd have seen that. I knew United 93 would be harrowing. It was. My chest is tight even now thinking about it. Still, I'm so glad I watched it. It's easily one of the best things I've seen this year. I won't say that you should see it, or enter into the discussion of whether it's "too soon" or not. I do feel like, through seeing this movie, I have a better understanding of the events that occurred on one of the most important days in history that I've actually lived. And United 93, to my relief, doesn't editorialize. This movie just lays out the timeline and the facts, straight up. In some ways it feels like a documentary. You follow along as people go to the airport, wait at the gate, and board the plane. It seem like every other trip you've made to the airport. And there's an overwhelming feeling of dread, because it does feel so familiar, and because you know what they don't.
United 93 doesn't try to inflate these people into overblown heroes, either. Again, to my great relief. To my mind, that doesn't serve them, or us, well. It only removes them from normal and identifiable existence when they are normal people, just like us, who are thrust into extraordinary circumstances. We see how they react. We think about how we'd react. We see the terrorists, too. We follow their path to the plane as well. They are extremists, they are murderers, but they are also people with families and lives and hopes and fears. Please don't interpret that as apologizing for what they did. I think it helps to see.
There was a particular scene that struck me. It won't spoil anything because we all know from the cockpit recordings and passenger phone calls that there were desperate prayers being said all over the plane. Prayers to different gods. Whose god answered? My lasting impression from this movie is that there is no answer from gods. Gods are the problem.