Friday, April 28, 2006


United 93 Opens Today

United 93 opened today, and I would urge all of us to see it, maybe more than once, and strongly urge our fellow citizens to see it, too. Trailers and other links available here.

Debbie Schlussel nominates United 93 for Movie of the Year, and declares that the film, due for release Friday, April 28th, should be “required movie viewing for all Americans who love freedom.” I would add, “as well as for all of those who would sell cheap what some hold dear.”

Schlussel makes the same point, and highly commends United 93 for the following people who don’t seem to get it:

Assorted ACLU-style lawyers and activists

Federal "law enforcement" bureaucrats

FAA brass

Most Hollywood directors and writers

She concludes her peace, obviously to those of us who “get it:”

While the United 93 passengers had barely a warning--perhaps less than an hour, we have had plenty of warning in America. It was not just the 9/11 attacks and the foiled shoe-bomber attempt in 2001, and other escapades since. Before that, we had the attack on the U.S.S. Cole in 2000, the blowing up of two U.S. embassies in East Africa in 1998, the 1996 Khobar Towers attacks, "Black Hawk Down" in Somalia, and so on. Before that, Hezbollah--a group which works with Al-Qaeda training its insurgents and which took part in the Khobar Towers attack--hijacked TWA Flight 847, torturing to death Navy diver Robert Stethem, and murdered 300 U.S. military and civilian personnel in Lebanon.

Yes, we have had the warnings. Plenty of them. And unlike in Hollywood, in real life, Jack Bauer does not usually save the day.

The question is: Will we take heed of them like the passengers on United 93 and go down fighting? Or will we "see no evil" and silently, willingly submit to the will of the Islamists who repeatedly tell us of their mission . . . until the West is dead?

Schlussel is worried about the signs of how this question is being answered, even as this movie opens. Couldn’t have come soon enough – the telling of this story --  one might conclude. Others disagree.

Many of my fellow conservative bloggers maintain that only liberals think that it’s too soon to start showing movies about 9/11. That’s perhaps debatable, although the sampling done by the Wall Street Journal Online seems to underscore conservative belief.

Sure, I know the job of a reviewer and critic is to very specifically address the artistic content of artistic works, and surely delving into structural elements of plot and dramatic exposition is well within the Drama Critic’s Area of Operations.

Still, based on the Journal’s selection, which I have no reason to doubt is representative, note those reactions critical of the movie. “Why it was made in the first place?” they whine. “Why was this movie made?” “We need something more from our film artists than another thrill ride.” They ask, “What, exactly, this re-creation illuminates?”

Or the most representative of this line of reasoning, from Manohla Dargis of the The New York Times:

"United 93" inspires pity and terror, no doubt. But catharsis? I'm still waiting for that.

Which kind of crystallized for me what I think of objections to the film.

Manohla, the rest of us aren’t waiting for a catharsis anymore. We experienced ours when we watched the planes hit the towers, the collapse of these massive structures, the instant transformation of nearly 3,000 people into dust and vapor and ash.

Perhaps that is the genius of this film, perhaps will be the genius of any accurate and honest film that will ever be made about the events of 9/11. Like some ancient Greek tragedy and the finest of Shakespeare’s work, there is something so universal, so elementally, brutally, human in the events of that day. The clear distinction, so starkly evident, between good and evil, that to tell the story is to make that instant connection to something timeless and essential.

The fact that the American people have been lulled into a predisposition for going back to sleep, to think this was after all some fantasy of revenge dreamed up by George Bush and the Neocons, that we can somehow talk and schmooze our way out of the Nuclear nightmares we face in Iran and North Korea, is reason enough to tell this story.

We needed to scream this story from rooftops on September 12, 2001, and every day thereafter. We need to honor our dead and fallen, each anniversary and day set aside for remembrances of heroes and sacrifice. We need to tell these stories to our Children’s children, and their children, for generations yet unborn.

It saddens me that such a world exists, and that the evil, so unimaginable to those who seek peace at any cost, exists. But I know it does. Those who died on United 93, at the Twin Towers, at the Pentagon, in Afghanistan and Iraq, know it too in a more final sense.

Some will never need to be reminded of that fact. For others, there will be films like United 93.

Please read, too, David Beamer’s piece in the Journal. Mr. Beamer is the father of Todd Beamer, a passenger on United Airlines Flight 93. He urges us to see United 93, and offers the following admonition, and prayer:

Be reminded of our very real enemy. Be inspired by a true story of heroic actions taken by ordinary people with victorious consequences. Be thankful for each precious day of life with a loved one and make the most of it. Resolve to take the right action in the situations of life, whatever they may be. Resolve to give thanks and support to those men, women, leaders and commanders who to this day (1,687 days since Sept. 11, 2001) continue the counterattacks on our enemy and in so doing keep us safe and our freedoms intact.

May the taste of freedom for people of the Middle East hasten victory. The enemy we face does not have the word "surrender" in their dictionary. We must not have the word "retreat" in ours. We surely want our troops home as soon as possible. That said, they cannot come home in retreat. They must come home victoriously. Pray for them.

Other commentary on United 93 well worth your while:

Michelle Malkin:   THE HIJACKING OF UNITED 93...AGAIN?


BLACKFIVE:   NEVER YIELD  —  We should never forget the heroism of September 11th.

IMAO:   Loose Screws  —  Though it doesn't come out until Friday …

Mark Noonan / Blogs for Bush:   United 93  —  David Beamer, father of United 93 passenger Todd Beamer …

Sister Toldjah:   David Beamer, father of Todd Beamer, on the Flight 93 movie

UPDATE: For a different perspective on the significance of United 93, you may want to read Ron Rosenbalm's thoughtful essay in Slate.

His conclusion:
But the closest we've come to getting inside the head of a 9/11 hijacker has come in the recent testimony of Zacarias Moussaoui gloating over the pain he brought to the survivors of the 9/11 victims in an ugly, unapologetic, out-of-control way: "No remorse, no regret." Pure delight in inflicting suffering and the prospect of more. Nothing very divided and existential about that. A figure out of Dawn of the Dead. One feels that this is closer to the real Mohammed Atta.

I did not come away from watching United 93 feeling optimistic about the triumph of the human spirit and the superior resilience of enlightenment values. Quite the opposite. I came away with a feeling that history has been hijacked by a cult of the undead, or the wannabe dead, suicidal mass murderers driven by theocratic savagery. That, if you want a metaphoric fable, we're all on Flight 93, we're all doomed to crash and burn; whatever we do, the best we can hope for is that the existential rewards of local acts of courage will help us hold on a little longer before the end of enlightenment civilization and the dawn of the dead.
I may disagree with some of his assessments, but at least this man sees evil for what it is. Go read the whole thing.

UPDATE #2: Chris Bowers, manager of the Liberal Blog Advertising Network, objects to the manner in which United 93 was (at least initially) marketed.

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