The aftermath proved tragic for many, but the stories of those who perished in the terrorist attacks, pulled the American people together through the emotions of loss.
Now, a film, “United 93,” looks to revisit one story from that tragic day. The story is truly one of bravery and sacrifice, but should it be a movie?
The story of the now legendary, United Airlines flight 93, began at Newark International Airport, in New York City. The plane was bound for San Fran Cisco, California with 45 people on board. However, the fabled flight would not reach its original destination, but would join the ranks of three other flights, which were hijacked to serve in the interest in terror. But luckily, for the people of the intended target, Flight 93 would not reach this destination planned by the terrorists. It would crash in a field located in rural southwest Pennsylvania, after many of its passengers tried to retake the aircraft from the hijackers.
Questioning the validity of such a movie does not question the importance of the actual events, or the bravery of those involved. The preliminary concern about the film is that it may play on people’s emotions of 9-11 to make a profit.
The film is described as being a “living memorial,” to those who died on Flight 93. It was supposed to tell the story of these remarkable passengers, shedding light into their personal lives to show their sacrifice and explain the intent of their heroic action. Sadly, the film did not achieve this.
The passengers of “United 93” are left nameless, and random. There is no portrayal of their individual lives in detail, as one would expect from a “living memorial.” All you learn about these legendary people is what you can pick up from random conversation. Which is usually them sending loving messages to their families, or saying phrases like, “I wish I was at home with my babies.” If this were a fictional movie, I would describe them as having no character development.
The actual focus of the movie is on other events, generally unrelated to Flight 93. You see, and learn more of the air-traffic controllers than anyone else. It continually shows them tracking the possibly hijacked planes, detailing the chaotic nature of the day.
This environment of chaos, and panic, along with the spliced in actual footage of a plane crashing into the World Trade Center, and Pentagon burning can bring back a lot of those bad memories held by people. I’m sure viewer’s emotions were going to be a brought by this film, no matter what. But the way it is all put together seems to be made to intentionally play with people’s emotions, and fears.
Apart from simply playing with people’s emotions, my own personal concern was the film studios using the tragedy of 9-11, while playing on people’s emotions to make a profit at the box-office. When news of this film came out, it seemed as though it was all for the families of the passengers. As part of being a “living memorial” the families and an existing memorial project were to receive money from the film. Unfortunately, they were only to receive 10% of the profit, from the first three days of North-American release. For me, this only confirmed studios’ intent, of only being concerned with profiting from this tragic story.
Whether the film and its intent is ethically sound, or not, is a conclusion that can only be reached by each individual, as they see fit. My own opinion is that it is not, I can not accept someone intending to make money off of the loss, death, and terror felt on 9-11, or any other tragedy. I can only hope, and pray that I am not alone in such a conviction.