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May 02, 2006 - Image 13

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2006-05-02

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The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, May 2, 2006 -13

Powerful tribute
offers no insight
By Imran Syed the flight where the terrorists were
Daily Arts Writer overpowered by a determined group
of heroes. It is, by its very being,
a story to be cherished, one to be
remembered and recounted; natu-
Ready or not, here it comes. The rally, it is also one for Hollywood
most horrific to explore.
moments of United 93 And explore is what Greengrass
America's most ("The Bourne Supremacy") does. He
horrific day have At the Showcase investigates real-life facts and ascer-
played out over and Quality 16 tains as much of the truth as can be
and over in news Universal found. This is not a stylized account,
coverage, books, and certainly not merely "based on"
Congressional hearings and even or "inspired by" real events. For bet-
TV movies. ter or for worse, for harm or for heal-
But now they finally move to the ing, this film is real events.
big screen. Writer/director Paul Slowly, almost methodically, the
Greengrass's "United 93" - the film unravels the events of Sept. I1 as
story of the events on board the they happened in real time. Viewers
last flight hijacked are subjected first
on Sept. 11 - is the A-hand to the confu-
first in what is sure to As endearing a sion and mayhem
be a long line of mov- tribute as (the faced by air traffic
let dealing directly controllers in New
with the events of film) is, it fails York City, Bos-
that tragic day. For ton, Washington
the tribute it pays to to consider D.C. and Cleve-
the fallen, and the land. They see the
precision with which the nations uncertainty faced
it captures the ter- e today by officials at
ror and confusion emo ions the Federal Avia-
that prevailed on tion Agency and
that infamous day, the film is to be the lack of orders that hold back
applauded - even if it is lacking on NORAD. And, of course, the viewer
other fronts. is on board for the terror of flight
United Airlines flight 93 was - 93, the desperate cries of injured
from piecemeal accounts taken from passengers, the tearful goodbyes
recordings of the ill-fated plane's hushedly relayed to loved ones on
last moments and from accounts of plane phones and ultimately, the
victims' relatives who received cell determined resolution to defeat the
phone calls during the hijacking - hijackers.

"No, seriously guys, there are snakes on this plane."

"United 93" masterfully handles
the emotions America faced on Sept.
11 and tactfully tightropes between
telling the story and exploiting it.
But, it borders on inept at under-
standing or evaluating America's
emotions following that day. Then
again, perhaps that's not its pur-
pose. The movie, it seems, is simply
a reminder of the day - straight,
undiluted, uneditorialized and
uncontextualized.
But film is a powerful medium.
Films have the power to evoke joy,
anguish, hope, inspiration and even
anger. No film can ignore the time
in which it's released, even if it's

simply relating an exact account of
another time.
This is where "United 93" falls
short. As endearing a tribute as it is,
it fails to consider the nation's emo-
tions today. It fails to realize that it
is far past the time that we imag-
ine terrorists as faceless, demonic
lunatics. It regrettably plays to the
innermost fears of America by mak-
ing the terrorists discernable from
the good guys simply by the harsh
sounding tones of their language and
their repeated, misguided evocations
of God. In order to defeat an enemy
completely, you must understand it
better than it understands itself, not

simply live a life of fear, distrust and
stereotypes.
Films, in their stylized, often
exaggerated way, seek to foster an
understanding of events, not simply
to recount them. But "United 93," as
Greengrass has repeatedly said, was
never meant to offer any such thing.
Perhaps there will be a time down the
road to explore the American psyche
following the terrorist attacks, but
Greengrass - for all his belief that
the time is right to explore Sept 11
itself - clearly does not believe now
is that time.
Let us hope it is not too far down
the road.

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