April 30, 2006
GERARD VAN DER LEUN on United 93: “The film I saw by myself tonight expands that meaning and brings a human face to the acts by the passengers of United 93 that endure only in that rare atmosphere that heroes inhabit. What I know in my heart, but what always escapes my understanding until something like this film renews it, is that heroism is a virtue that most often appears among us not descending from some mythic pantheon, but rising up out of the ordinary earth and ordinary hearts when the moment calls for actions extraordinary.”
I also like what Wesley Mullins wrote:
The film also refuses to use hindsight in determining which facts to emphasize and has total ambivalence for the cultural impact of some people/events. No special significance is given to Beamer’s “let’s roll” direction that became a rallying cry for America and no reference is made to the group being lead by a hulkish homosexual who helped redefine the image of effeminate gays in a pre-Brokeback world. Even though those have been two important stories to come from Flight 93, nobody on the flight that day knew it…so the film doesn`t revise reality to acknowledge them.
The brilliance of a film like this can be understood by comparing it to the film many would have made instead. A lesser film would have Brad Pitt or Eric Bana playing Mark Bingham and Matt Damon or Tom Cruise playing Todd Beamer. The action would have slowed for the characters to capture the focus of the audience and build cliched subplots about lifelong struggles to overcome adversity. Their final rush to glory would have been a moment of catharsis, as they were able to overcome some fault that haunted them for years.
Thankfully, “United 93” is not that film. It is an unflinching, unromanticized account of the events of 9/11.