What some people go to the movies for
Special to The Union
“United 93” is an intimate movie. Sex comes to mind when people think about intimacy. Sex comes to mind when people think about movies, for that matter. But “United 93” is intimate in the sense of something very personal and private, in the sense of some very close association or familiarity. “United 93” has nothing to do with sex. It has everything to do with intimacy.
Some people go to the movies to escape the personal and private. Some people go to the movies to feel very close to something, even as they intentionally place it in a two-hour compartment. Some people crave familiarity with a subject that is real – real in a way that only art can convey. “United 93” is an impressive artistic achievement. It succeeds because of how thoroughly it connects a palpable respect for facts and speculation to the subjective whorl of the human condition.
“United 93” bleeds with tension. First, it lets you squirm with the knowledge that Sept. 11, 2001, is about to be recreated right before your eyes. Then, it straps you claustrophobically into one aspect of this fateful day – the hijacking of a commercial jetliner – while paralyzingly tying in the hijacking of three other commercial jetliners. However big you think the events of this day are for you or for the USA or for the world, this is laser sharp storytelling with the kind of penetrating power that such a beam can carry.
At least as compelling as the deadly tragedy unfolding is the all-too- mundane infrastructure forced to try to understand and act. “Keep on working,” a commander entreats from one of many control-challenged air control centers. This film barely permits a moment to consider the weight and breadth of that statement.
“United 93” may or may not be the kind of movie you want to experience but it is an excellent two-hour compartmentalization of an intimately pervading reality.
Chuck Jaffee lives in Nevada City. Find links to other articles for The Union at http://www.startlets.com.
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