United 93


I wasn’t quite sure why I wanted to see this film, but I somehow felt that it was important. I was not wrong.
From the first moment I felt that awful, pulse raising tension that comes from knowing the end from the beginning and knowing that these people will die. There is no happy ending. We share a little time with a group of people, though we never really meet them. We don’t know their back story, we don’t even know most of their names, but isn’t that what it’s like whenever you fly? They are just people on a plane, and Paul Greengrass drops us into their world like one extra passenger.
Enough fine words have been written by wise reviewers so I don’t need to add to them. Here are my personal impressions.
… How very quickly it all happened (the film plays out events at real time). How difficult it was to know exactly what was really going on as events unfolded and how little anyone could have done once the planes were in the air.
… Immense respect for those in air traffic control and the military who were prepared to relive that terrible day by playing themselves in the film.
… That nagging and virtually unanswerable question – ‘What would I have done?’ and particularly, ‘Would I have been prepared to kill one of the hijackers?’
… Where was God? I believe he was there, but wholly there, working with, in and through people made in his image to avert a greater evil, not there like the Superman god of our imagining, swooping down and carrying the plane to safety. More than that, I don’t think we can know – eternity will tell.
The silence at the end of the film seems to go on forever. Suddenly we’re back in the cinema with dozens of other people, no longer an audience but witnesses. This is, in the broad sense of the word, a profoundly spiritual moment. It’s the first time I’ve experienced people leaving a cinema hushed and with heads a little bowed as they would leave a funeral or a memorial service – perhaps, in a way, we were.

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