Most docudramas, miniseries, and movies “inspired by actual events” are too long, too dramatic, and stray too far from the facts. “United 93” isn’t one of them, and I must disagree with my colleague, Michael, who wrote that he didn’t see what anyone would get from seeing this movie. I think everyone should see it. And take your teenagers if you can.
Don’t go see it for enjoyment, because it is too gritty to be called entertainment. But too many kids–as well as overgrown kids–don’t get anywhere close to the real events when they watch the typical movie that claims to be “inspired by actual events.”
“United 93” obviously didn’t have the happy ending of “Thirteen Days” or “Apollo 13.” It didn’t have forced romance to soften the blow, like “Titanic” or “Pearl Harbor.” It hits us more personally than “Hotel Rwanda,” “U-571,” or “K-19: The Widowmaker,” because it chronicles a recent American tragedy, which strikes us at our core. It hurts deeper than some other realist flicks such as “Black Hawk Down” or “Saving Private Ryan,” because 9-11 is more current and real for many of us.
But sooner or later, Americans are going to have to develop a strategy for producing the same depth of conviction that once caused our forefathers to commit treason against the King to start a new country, which we’re all now blessed to live in. The passengers on United 93 can teach us much about that.
One small controversy about this film may be the altering of the last slide of the ending credits, changed from “America’s war on terror had begun” to a dedication to the memory of the passengers and crew. I liked the former title, not simply because of the politics involved, but because “United 93” is about people who took personal responsibility and acted in circumstances which they didn’t cause but nevertheless confronted them. Their actions didn’t extend their own lives, but gave life to countless others who were saved by their heroics. Therein lies a depth of sacrifice and love that few Americans have heard enough recent stories about.
When “commitment” and “willingness to sacrifice” are discussed, we’re usually hearing about the other guys.