By now we have all heard about United 93, the first major film about the events of 9-11, opening April 28. I can already tell you that I will not be watching this film. I also never watch the viral movies of persons leaping from the buildings. While I understand some persons need video or film images and want to relive tragic occurrences to remember, I am not one of those persons. I did not need to see Passion of the Christ to understand the awful price paid by Jesus. I did not need to see Saving Private Ryan to understand what men like my father went through during WWII (although both were fine films). My imagination is terribly vivid.
My initial thoughts concerning the film were less than positive, until I saw the Director attached to the project and realized it will be tasteful, intense, immediate, frighteningly realistic and emotionally wrenching (along with probably making a few people sick that cannot handle his extreme usage of handheld cameras). Paul Greengrass made the wonderful Bourne Supremacy and before that brought immediacy and dignity to the tragic circumstances of the Bloody Sunday tragedy in his film of that name (great movie). He knows how to draw people into real life. But, I am not ready for his style of filmmaking coupled with this event.
First of all, in today's society film becomes reality. We believe Christ lost more blood than humanly possible because of the Passion. We believe that LBJ had Kennedy killed because of JFK. We believe that Gangs of New York, Alexander, Amistad, Walk the Line and Capote. Heck, we believe that our hearts will go on because of Titanic. Revisionist history is fine, but too few people study history and believe if it is onscreen it happened.
My concern here is, unlike most historical films, no one really knows what happened and fiction will become reality. Unlike films such as Bloody Sunday, Schindler's List and Munich, there are no survivors to tell the actual story. So, we are left to a filmmaker for historical accuracy. It reminds me of the film Perfect Storm, most of which was a guess at best (and without the historical importance).
Unlike the film 25th Hour, the show Third Watch or Bruce Springsteen's The Rising, which are pieces of art influenced by 9-11 and struggle to tell the story of how this event affected individuals, this purports to be the truth. 30 minutes of a black box are not quite enough for me. History will be distorted once again, even if the attempt is to tell the story of people that acted heroic. Even an attempt to tell a story of a fictional character dying in 9-11 would be a better approach for my tastes. And, we have plenty of excellent documentaries telling the days story.
I am sure the masses will tell me I am wrong and find me unpatriotic (or something) for my beliefs here.
By the way, Stevenson Swanson of the Chicago Tribune has a very evenhanded article on the controversy surrounding the film and the emotional responses on all sides. Read Too Soon?