TOO EARLY FOR UNITED 93
by Paul Butler
Few movies in our age –or in any age for that matter– have seen quite so many people scratching their chins wondering whether they are ready for the experience of writer-director Paul Greengrass’s United 93.
The film about the 9/11 passengers who come to the conclusion that only direct action can save them, has garnered almost universal acclaim. Part of this praise, is almost certainly relief.
The confusion and horror of 9/11 activated an unprecedented jingoism in North America and Europe. It caused journalistic standards to plummet and sparked some truly appalling art; witness Neil Young’s Let’s Roll, a song whose lyrics are an embarrassing blot on an otherwise distinguished career.
For the most part, United 93 recreates what is most likely to have happened, and the movie sets about this task with an impressive single mindedness. Stock words we have come to associate with 9/11 –"freedom," "truth" and "democracy"– aren’t used at all either on the flight, or on the ground where air traffic controllers and the military try and work out what is going on.