Thursday 15 June 2006


Last evening, with David and Sophie, to Bodeans for an all-American supper (BBQ burnt ends, pulled pork, refried beans and onion rings) and then to Clapham Picture House to see ‘United 93’, the story of the fourth plane hijacked on 9/11 and how, unlike the other three, it failed to reach its target…

Written and directed by Paul Greengrass, 'United 93' is filmed in a faux “cinema verite” style that is hypnotically powerful.

The restless, hand-held, cinematography and the half-heard snatches of inconsequential dialogue give the motion picture a compelling authenticity and a terrible urgency.

This “fly-on-the-wall” verisimilitude is then eerily endorsed by having leading personnel from the Federal Aviation Administration playing themselves in this achingly painful recreation of the day’s events.

‘United 93’ is unavoidably reverential and there is no attempt - as there would be in a conventional disaster movie - to tell the back-stories of the people involved. We know little or nothing about any of passengers and crew, have no real inkling of their plans and ambitions for that day or for the rest of their lives. Nor are we told anything about the families and friends whom they manage to telephone in their final moments of life in order to pass on a simple, unaffected, litany of love…

As for the hijackers, other than their devout prayerfulness throughout the lead up to their terrifying mission, we understand nothing more about what made them tick or what motivated their suicidal pact with death, than we did on that September day, five years ago.

That we stay hooked into the relentlessly unfolding drama despite having no obvious points of emotional contact is due, perhaps, to a undiminished desire to make sense of the jig-sawed events of 9/11 and a need to believe in the small heroisms of humanity.

Added to which, every one of us who has ever experienced - even for a second - a fear of being involved in an air disaster cannot escape putting ourselves in the claustrophobic cabin of that aircraft and vicariously experiencing the last flight of United 93…

[Image: © Universal Pictures]

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I envy you your memory.

All great endings as you say. I think you missed one though! (affects Bugs Bunny voice "That's all folks!")