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United 93

Several times the past few days I’ve thought about the lack of decent movies in the theaters. I went to several movies late last year and early this year, but nothing since mid January. Why? Because nothing seems worth seeing. Some friends left a message tonight with the same idea…"we should go to a movie, but nothing looks good."

In their message they said the movie, United 93, is being released tomorrow, but they aren’t sure if they can watch it–"it’s too soon." I can understand that, and, personally, I don’t know if I can watch this movie in a theater, but I don’t ever want to forget what happened that day and what the passengers of United flight 93 did.

I’ve read a few reviews of the movie and it’s trailers. (This is the first time I remember seeing a written review of a movie trailer.) The "trailer-review" article, which I haven’t been able to find again, compared the two released preview trailers for United 93 and not a yet released draft-version trailer for World Trade Center, a movie about the terrorist attacks coming later this year from Oliver Stone. This article said the trailers implied that the movie United 93 was designed to scare us, but that Stone’s movie trailer implied his movie was trying to unite us. Unite who? Americans, by reminding us of the patriotic mood that swept the nation after the attacks? Considering it’s from Oliver Stone, I doubt that’s the movie’s intent. I haven’t seen a trailer for World Trade Center, so I don’t know. I have seen one trailer for United 93 and I didn’t get the impression that the movie was developed to scare me. The Friday the 13th movies were developed to scare me. The trailer for United 93 looked to me like it was telling the truth by showing what we know happened, mixed with a little of what we think happened, on that flight. Is that going to be upsetting to watch? Is watching this going to scare me some? Yes, I suspect so. But contrary to that article, the movie is not setting out to scare, it’s setting out to document what happened. Maybe that’s a small difference, but, to me, it’s an important difference.

The reviews I’ve read of United 93 (the reviews of the movie, not the preview trailer review) seem to agree with me that the movie documents. Here are reviews in the Chicago Tribune and USA Today. (Note: These are external links that might become inactive.) Both reviews say United 93 is an excellent, gripping movie documenting one part of a horrible and terrible event. But still, I don’t know if I can watch it in a theater.

I remember those weeks following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorists attacks against the United States. I remember the special obituaries the Chicago Tribune ran for weeks and weeks listing all the victims. Each victim’s obituary was only a few paragraphs long, but it took weeks to include everyone–it was important to include everyone. Each victim’s life reduced to a few paragraphs–that’s terrible also. I read each one of those obituaries. I cried every night for weeks. I didn’t know any of the victims of 9-11, but the least I could do was read about them and try to remember them. I went to the same college as three of the victims, but only overlapped time in school with one victim–one that died a hero on United flight 93.

I want to honor and remember the victims of all nationalities that died during the terrorist attacks and it seems that this movie attempts to do that. But I still don’t know if I can watch it in a theater. I just don’t know if I can handle the emotions in such a public setting. And part of me understands that and part of me is ashamed of that.

4 comments to United 93

  • I’m grappling with the same issue. I want to see it, but a theater with a big screen might be too overwhelming and too public since I tend to get emotional watching movies anyway. I’m debating whether I want to go see it now or watch it at home, which allows one to get a little more emotional distance, or fast-forward past a violent moment if needed. TTYS, Laura

  • Yes, my thoughts also.

  • I can’t watch movies that portray actual human suffering, or kids, actual or pretend, in peril.
    I heard the kid in Pay if Forward dies at the end and didn’t watch it for that reason.
    I’ll watch Bruce Willis blow people to pieces all day and not think a thing about it. That is so certainly fiction that it isn’t a problem.
    Bad things that happened or might happen … they trouble me.

  • That’s interesting. Does that mean you can’t watch movies about WWII? I’m not talking bad movies like the recent Pearl Harbor or very graphic or violent movies like Saving Private Ryan, but good movies like Battleground or Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, etc. Just curious.

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