United 93

Have you ever thought about what you were doing at your place when something disastrous was going on in some other part of the world? On 9/11 when it happened, I was sitting cool in my college hostel watching a Tamil movie in KTV. Suddenly when one of the guys switched to the news channel we saw smokes coming out of the targets and we didn’t realize how biggest a disaster was happening at that time and thought it as a fire accident and switched back to KTV. But what if you could see simultaneously what was happening at the same time (i.e., when I was watching movie in KTV) inside those planes that hit the targets. A lot was happening in two other planes one targeted on Pentagon and the other on the White House. “United 93” is one of hardest hitting, real (literally) life docu-drama that brings those moments of chaos in Air control offices and also in the United 93 plane which was hijacked to hit White house, almost exactly like how it happened on that day.

It is quite usual in Hollywood to make movies based on real life incidents and disasters. We had movies like a romantic epic ‘Titanic’ which conceived the accident with a love story in the fore and making the accident as a backdrop. Before, if I were asked about my favourite among the Hollywood movies made, based on real life incidents, my immediate reply would have been Spielberg’s ‘Schindler’s List’ but not anymore. These movies visualized the real incident as authentic as possible but nothing can come near to what Paul Greengrass has achieved in “United 93”. It is really real. The happenings on United 93 are written as authentically as possible based on the information got from the Black box.

There are no newly married couples, no two passengers who fall in love after getting into United 93 and trying to help each other to escape from the situation, no father trying to save his son, no kid trying to save its puppy, no hero fighting with the villains to save the plane and no usual clich├ęs anywhere in the movie. It is just the event; the incident itself is the anti-hero of the movie. You can very well understand the intention of the director not to give importance to any single character from the very first scene of the movie. The passengers who are going to board United 93 flight talk to their relatives and pals over phone and no conversation is given importance and you just hear a lot of noise as like how you would hear those conversations when you were sitting there in the lobby as one of the passenger and even the visuals are the random shots of all the passengers on how one would have a quick look at his co-passengers and this totality remains till the end.

We know what happened, we know the ending, and we know it is going to happen but as the movie races towards the end, out heart beats faster and tense creeps into our mind like those passengers on board and it yearns for the safe landing of the flight. Never before while watching a movie, I have said ‘Oh! My God’ as many times as I said while watching this movie. Even the villain, the hijackers are the not the villains here because they earn equal and sometimes much more sympathy of ours than the passengers get. Their constant prayers to God, their constant dilemma about the intention of their actions, their fear, trembling and one of them saying final goodbye to his wife over phone are as human as no villain can be in a movie. Yet they do what they have been ordered to do. What hell on the earth would have prepared a human mind to blindly follow someone’s instruction and do something like this on the cost of his own life?

More than the happenings in the plane, the chaos in the air control offices in the land is captured authentically with some of the officers playing themselves. It takes a little time to understand at least for a non-American like me who is who and what they all are doing over there, and though initially technical jargons of the officers puts you off, we will slowly get used to the terms and indulge ourselves in the proceedings and that is where the success of the screenplay lies which maintains a right balance between raw real facts and human side of it. Paul Greengrass please take a bow for capturing the things with much sensitivity and yet without hurting any of the victims of the tragedy.

“United 93” is an experience not to be missed.


Madan said...

Hi, gr8 review about the movie. Hope to see it sumday. BTW did u c Vettaiyadu Velaiyadu? A really good Tamil action movie after a long time. From what u have written, this seems to be a different experience from most movies based on real life. Must see it.

Filbert said...

They say that the magnitude of the 9/11 attacks can be gauged from the fact almost everybody in the world can vividly recollect what they were doing at that exact moment when they came to know about the news of the attacks. So, it was great to see you start your review with your recollection of that point in time.

BTW, how is Vattaaram? Waiting for your take on it.

Suresh Kumar said...

Madan: Yeah, it sure is and about VV it is average. I have already posted my revu here

Filbert: that's exactly what i felt while writing that one... Haven't heard vattaram yet.. will listen to it... bte heard Kizhakku Kadarkarai salai, three songs are good and very different in its structure and orchestration

2ndReview said...

Where did u get the movie? Cinema paradiso?

Suresh Kumar said...

No, DVD's are not yet officially out in India, it is no there in Cinema paradiso or Tic tac, i saw it in a pirated DVD

saravana said...

Got the movie atlast. It is an engaging inspite(?) of the fact that we know we know what is gonna happen. Or it is interesting because of what we know even before the movie ends. Though the movie has an authenticty that most of the hollywood movies lack but it certainly is manipulative(defined as you sit through the move get engrossed in it but at the end there is something irritating about it).

But Schindler's list is a cinematic masterpiece irrespective of whether speilberg has twisted the facts or not(he seems to do it but well within the limits). One point to prove it how the movie stands on the nth viewing(n=2 to 10).