I have yet to see United 93, which I’ve only heard great things about. I’d caught the Movie of the Week version of the same Flight 93 story several months ago, which was just awful. For that reason, I had no desire to see the theatrical feature. I’ll need to catch it on DVD.
We checked out Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center last weekend. People on both sides have found the flick decidedly unlike Stone, which surprises people both ways. (i.e. Politically conservative critics of Stone are having difficulties finding someting to criticize, while 911 conspiracy theorists are disappointed that Stone didn’t entertain the opportunity to support their theories.)
What I really enjoyed about the WTC flick was what we don’t see. Since we’re already so familiar with the gritty details of the day, I found it extremely effective for Stone to leverage the social consciousness the way he did, letting our own brains fill in the gaps. The “first person” perspective is amazing, sort of like climbing into the skin of the guys who weren’t watching the TV that morning like the rest of us. (i.e. “Second plane? What second plane?”; “Where are all the buildings?”; etc.) It gives you a taste of the confusion from a whole new angle.
I expected the tear jerking and was quite ready for it. What surprised me was how early on in the film I had to start dabbing my eyes with my shirt. We hadn’t even gotten to the anticipated character-driven drama yet. It was something more incidental for me: the sight of the floating office papers. It brought me back to the meaningless (to me, anyway) horror of it all. To see the actors playing the PAPD getting off the bus and going in so blind to what they were in for, with my own knowledge one step ahead of them, was quite a moving experience. You don’t get that feeling in a theater very often.
Understand that it’s not what I would consider the “definitive” WTC flick, as it’s really a microview of two individuals’ experiences. For that reason, I wonder if the title may could’ve been re-evaluated.
In any case, if you liked U93 on the big screen, I imagine you’ll want to chalk this one in also.