Directed by Paul Greengrass
If there’s one adjective to aptly describe United 93, it’s rigorous. Paul Greengrass is extremely thorough in recreating the events aboard the flight from Newark to LA on September 11, 2001. It was one of the four hijacked planes that missed its target due to the sudden intervention by its passengers. Instead of hitting the Capitol Hill it crashed at Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
The film doesn’t offer any insights, nor does it deeply analyse the politics and repercussions of those globe-shattering events. It just aims to be an accurate docu-feature. We begin with the terrorists praying and preparing for their suicide mission and then move on to the airport. The feeling of imminent doom magnifies in the face of the humdrum of daily flights. It’s just another ordinary day for an ordinary set of people who are engaged in commonplace conversations. The camera captures it in a matter-of-fact, clinical manner. We keep alternating between two playgrounds—the airplane and the control rooms. Greengrass slowly builds a sense of urgency in the routine procedures and eventually confusion takes over. The hand-held camera and quick cuts add to the tension.
In the face of what we already know, little details turn chillingly ironic. Like the delay in take-off for United 93 even as American 11 goes off the radar, or the shot of WTC from 93 a little before it would have exploded.
None of the characters are fleshed out, their personal histories and stories not told, in fact, you don’t even get to know their names. What’s more, all roles are played by non-professionals which only adds to the film. After all, it’s not individuals who are important but the situation that they are caught in because of their collective fate.
The film pulls you into its world, turns you a passive participant. You can feel the desperation of the passengers and as they run to the cockpit to wrest control you almost hope for a safe landing.
My only problem was with the depiction of terrorists. Does the film add to their "otherness" and to our fear of "them"? I felt uncomfortable but perhaps that is reality.
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Courtesy: Film Information