April 4, 2006

"I don't think people are ready for this."

They've stopped showing the trailer for "Flight 93."


Joan said...

They stopped showing it at one theatre in NYC, they haven't stopped showing it altogether.

According to the official site, the film was made with the complete support of the families of those aboard.

I understand that some people, maybe many people, will not want to see this movie. But I also know that a lot of people don't want to be reminded that we are actually at war, even though we can usually forget it. The terrorists will strike us whenever they can -- if they could have hit us again, they would have. And they'll keep trying. I have no idea whether or not the film will be any good, but I appreciate very much the reminder.

jeff said...

(Sarcasm) You know that if it doesn't show the USAF/CIA shooting down the airliner, it's a complete BusHitler fabrication, right? (/Sarcasm)

Unknown said...

I appreciate the reminder as well. It can be unsettling, though. I was in a theater and saw the trailer for The Guys some two years after 9/11 and I burst into tears. I didn't go to the actual movie--I couldn't handle it. I surprised myself, and I didn't lose anyone personally, so this subject still has lots of power. Sometimes I think that the power of all this unresolved grief, and our denial of it, fuels alot of the BDS out there.

Wade Garrett said...

I don't know what to think. Is it just too soon for these people? If so, I entirely understand that they would not want to see it, but I don't think that they should refuse to release the movie, or even to pull the trailer. I think that a lot of people would want to see the movie, for all anybody knows it might help some people achieve closure.

Saving Private Ryan came out more than 50 years after D-Day, but when it did, some veterans said that it was the movie they were waiting decades for somebody to make. Then again, 5 years is a lot more immediate than 54 years. If it came out, I would probably go to see it.

Robert said...

We saw the trailer ahead of Failure to Launch over the weekend. It is powerful. I can understand why some people are upset by it. But to argue that five years is too soon for a respectful look at some of the greatest heroes of the War on Terror doesn't sit well with me. In fact, I think the country would be better off if we had an entertainment industry like in WWII that were on our side and made films to encourage the war effort. But then, I'm just a rabid right-wing reactionary, so what do I know?

XWL said...

As linked to by Instapundit, Judith Weiss has one of the better takes on the whole issue.

(and Prof. Althouse, you wouldn't be wrong to link that post (or discuss it) in your main post on the subject)

Andy Levy said...

my take here...

The Cranky Insomniac - 9/11 is no joke

TWM said...

I watched the trailer and recalled the emotions I had on 9/11. I was angry and sad and frustrated all over again.

We are ready, I think, and frankly it will do us good to recall that day because so many of us seem to have forgotten already.

Thorley Winston said...

Interesting, I wonder how many people who are saying it’s “too soon” for a movie about United 93 also thought it was “too soon” to make Fahrenheit 9/11.

The Drill SGT said...

I think we need to separate the movie from being surprised by the trailer. We're now nearly 5 years after the attack.

I remember precisely where I was when I saw the first tower come down. I was at work watching with many co-workers who were veterans like me. I remember what I said also. "We're at War. I don't know who with, but we're at war".

Can you imagine Hollywood not making pro-American films about our last good war till 1946? We got Fahrenheit 911, Syriana, and Abu Grahib 24/7 from the MSM and Hollywood. The MSM lead every day with casualties stories from Iraq, blood, guts, funerals, anything that attacks the sacrifice our troops are undertaking, but show 767 hitting the Tower? No too horrific to show why we are fighting a relentless enemy.

I predict that the movie will be moderately successful in theaters, play well in the heartland, do better in DVD, panned by the press, ignored in the awards, and become a cult classic.

Ann Althouse said...

XWL: "Prof. Althouse, you wouldn't be wrong to link that post (or discuss it) in your main post on the subject)"

I went over there and read it and didn't really understand what it was that you found so compelling. Please explain.

MadisonMan said...

I remember what I said also. "We're at War. I don't know who with, but we're at war".

(wistful sigh). If only we'd finished that war, successfully. We were almost there! Instead we sidetracked our way into a quagmire with someone who didn't cause 9/11.

I probably won't see the movie. But I see fewer movies than Ann, and that's saying something!

HalfCentTriChic said...

My family lost two members on 9/11, and I fully intend on seeing this.

As another poster wrote, it's "too soon" to see this film, but not the liefest of "F911"?


CatoRenasci said...

I live within 30 miles of Manhattan and we could see the World Trade Center from Greenwich Point on a clear day. I watched the second plane hit the tower on TV and watched the two towers collapse. I lost acquaintances, and my daughters had friends who lost parents. On the afternoon and evening of 9/11, I watched the smoke coming from hole where the towers had been, dominating the sky some 30 miles away.

I watched the trailer on the web and thought it was excellent. I have read this film was made with the approval of all of the Flight 93 families.

Every time I go to Greenwich Point on a clear day and see the Manhattan skyline without the World Trade Center I remember those who died and those who want to destroy Western civilization. I will see this film.

I think the federal government should buy the DVD rights to this film -- whatever it takes -- and place copies of the film in the hands of every American middle school and high school classroom and insist that every student watch the film.

We should never forget that there really are evil enemies who want to destroy freedom. We should not rest as long as any of them live.

It's funny, how an even can change your views. For me, to use Rawlsian langauge, everything is lexically ordered: the War comes first and everything else is a distant second.

Ann Althouse said...

I am repelled by the idea of a fictionalized representation of Flight 93. I do not want to see actors pretending to be horrified and suffering. I don't need a film to remember what happened and do not want one.

CatoRenasci said...

Ann said: I am repelled by the idea of a fictionalized representation of Flight 93. I do not want to see actors pretending to be horrified and suffering. I don't need a film to remember what happened and do not want one.

Is it that you don't need a film to remember, or is it that you would prefer not to remember? So many people in this country just seem to want to put the reality of how horrible 9/11 was out of their consciousness.

My daughter attends college in Minnesota. She was a freshman in the fall of 2003. She was appalled that her religiously affiliated college had absolutely NO commemoration of 9/11 only 2 years later! No demand, the chaplain told her. Two more years on and 9/11 is just another fall day in the midwest.

Most people don't want to remember 9/11 because to really comprehend it is to accept that the world has really changed, for each of and for the West. That's hard to accept, especially for those on the left. But, the difficulty of it doesn't make it any less true.

People need to confront what's happened, have it in their faces at least as much as the illegal immigrant demonstrations. Law students and law faculty especially, who are the teachers and future practicioners of the rule of law, need to be remined just how thin the verneer of civlization is.

Mattias A. Caro said...

The idea to pull the trailer seems fairly sensitive: one can choose to watch the movie, but really has little choice during a trailer. Maybe on the whole people aren't ready for it, but it is ultimately a story of heroism, albeit at a great price. I wonder if some of the political debate that will underlie much of the criticism won't be similar to the push-back that Gibson's movie faced just two years ago: a critique of the violence/presentation when the real repulsion was the truth of the message (though there are some legitimate concern to be had with the intensity of the physicality in Passion of the Christ)

XWL said...

I went over there and read it and didn't really understand what it was that you found so compelling. Please explain.

This part is mainly what I was referring to

"I have a feeling this movie will quietly "separate the men from the boys," as it were. It will make the moonbats more moonbatty, and it will strengthen the resolve of those inclined that way. It will draw a line in the sand. It will do medium boxoffice and medium DVD sales but become kind of a "cult classic" in that it will be a cultural identifier for the group of people who want to win this war and feel surrounded by those who are hostile or indifferent. So it will be a quiet steady propaganda/morale booster for our side. That's my prediction - we'll see if it comes true."

I think there's some truth to that statement. I've noticed a left/right divide in reaction to this film, given that it was NYC and LA crowds that the media noticed making a stink about this trailer, and many right of center bloggers suggesting that this film, at this time, will be a good thing (and haven't found anyone on the left or center saying the same thing).

Similarly, when Oliver Stone was chosen to direct the WTC picture focusing on firefighters, many on the right rose a stink, and the left defended the idea as suggesting that A] It's just a movie and B] He'll do a fine job, and if he says he won't inject his own political views into the film, then we can trust good old Ollie.

Apologies for being cryptic (unless that was part of my ploy to get you to contemplate your personal reaction slightly deeper, then why would I apologize?)

Joan said...

I don't share Ann's feelings on this movie, but I can understand them. But Ann isn't really into movies at all, is she? She has said repeatedly she rarely watches movies. This movie is clearly not targetted at her.

Should Schindler's List or Saving Private Ryan have not been made? Was it repellent to see actors pretending to be starving abused Jews, or soldiers shot to pieces on the beach in Normandy? Of course the images were horrifying, but wasn't that the point? We're supposed to be horrified. We're supposed to remember, or for those too young to remember, we're supposed to get a glimpse of what it really must've been like.

I think that would be a good thing, and I'm glad there will be movie out there that can show future generations how this long war started with an unstinting act of sacrifice by the passengers aboard that flight.

The Commercial Traveller said...

Not ready for this? I think people are infantilizing Americans--the same way they did when they refused to show people jumping out of the WTC.

If they tell the story in a compelling, truthful manner, I think that's a service to the country. I don't see anything morbid or disrespectful. In fact, I think the dedication of a piece of art to their memory is quite a fitting way to honor them.

Of course, it all depends on whether it's a good film or not. We are in the midst of a struggle that began with those citizens on that plane and, if it does its job right, the film should remind us that we all have a duty to continue the fight they started.

The real national shame is that the friggin towers are nowhere near close to being rebuilt. That highlights the worst aspects of our political and social climate: the paralysis caused by trying to please every special interest.

Wade Garrett said...

I too lived in a part of Connecticut from which one could see the smoke clouds caused by the collapse of the World Trade Center.

However, this is flight 93. This plane didn't crash into the World Trade Center. Was it a victory? No, I wouldn't say that. But it was inspiring in a very dark way, and for that reason I believe that the telling of its story is very worthwhile.

Furthermore, I think it is unfair to judge this movie before seeing it. I said that about Farenheit 9-11, Walk the Line, and every other movie that is criticized before its release. A thoughtful and well-made movie would honor those who died, whereas a hackish and unnecessarily jingoistic movie would dishonor them. I for one will see this movie before condemning it.

West Coast Independent said...

I have two boys, 13 and 10. I fully intend to take them to see this movie. Both of them remember that fateful day. It important that they also see how heroic and brave Americians are.

Seven Machos said...

I have no problem with this movie. Personally, though, I'd like to see war movies in which Americans kick the tar out of Arab terrorists. Talk about controversial!

Also, I think the fact that these trailers are being pulled and this thread exists is about the best thing ever for the producers of this film, provided they wish to make a profit. So, Professor Althouse, please continue to be horrified.

LoafingOaf said...

I support the movie so long as it's well-made, although I have to admit that often tru-life stories of horrible events can feel like exploitations.

But the passangers on this light are heroes who saved us from having to see our Capitol building destroyed, and they need to be remembered. They may have rescued us from having martial law or something! When I think about 9/11, I don't just think about how bad an atrocity it was, but also how much worse it could've been, and what would've happened to America had it been even worse.

Everywhere I go nowadays the fashion is to subscribe to all kinds of Internet lies and conspiracy theories about 9/11. At the very least, this movie will remind them that victims were making cell phone calls from the hijacked planes to their loved ones, which sadly is a point I keep having to bring up with aquaintances who insist there weren't really hijacked planes at all.

Ann Althouse said...

XWL: I'm disgusted by the left/right divide people are trying to make over this. I didn't relate to that presentation at all.

I resent Cato's questioning my statement about my own feelings about this film. This kind of political goading about a film is ridiculous.

Joan: I had very similar feelings about "Schindler's List" and "Saving Private Ryan." I did not like a fiction film presenting the material. It should be a documentary. Actors should not be playing out these scenes. I cannot get over the sense of desecration.

"Professor Althouse, please continue to be horrified."

I'm not horrified. I'm repelled by actors playing out these scenes. I think it is important to remember what happened, but I don't want some fiction film standing in for the reality. This is not for me about wanting to heal or turning away from violence. It's about the inadequacy of fiction film acting.

The chances of this being a good film are very low. Plane disaster films are inevitably schlock, which is why we've been laughing at "Airplane!" for decades and are laughing in advance at "Snakes on a Plane."

Seven Machos said...

After writing what I wrote, I did stop to consider that "repelled" is different than "horrified." I should have used "repelled."

TWM said...

Unfortunately, Professor, many Americans do need to be reminded of what happened. If more remembered, perhaps there would not be so much ambivalence about the war on terror.

Were Americans repelled by movies on the sinking of the Arizona in Pearl Harbor? Or the deaths of so many of our brave soldiers at the beaches of Normandy on D-Day? Or the depictions of the brave men in Black Hawk Down? No doubt a few were, but those were stories that needed to be told.

Just like this one.

Let's just hope it is well-made.

Ann Althouse said...

I did think "Black Hawk Down" was good. I don't know about the message, though. It stimulated hopelessness about fighting, didn't it? One helicopter goes down, and it proves we should have never even tried.

MadisonMan said...

If more remembered, perhaps there would not be so much ambivalence about the war on terror.

I remember quite clearly the attacks on 9/11, thankyouverymuch. My ambivalence towards the war on terror stems mostly from the incompetence of those who are directing it. If the war were succeeding, ambivalence would evaporate. Nothing succeeds like success, as they say.

I agree with Ann that the movie, like all airplane movies, will likely be schlock. And you know the ending. True, that didn't harm Titanic (which I haven't seen). But I can easily envisage a pitch meeting for this movie, in which the moneyholders are told everyone will feel it their duty to see this movie. It is canny marketing by Hollywood, which should not surprise, as they are very very good at that.

Part of me has always resented the manipulation of emotions by marketers.

TWM said...


Some people (I'm not saying you) would be ambivalent, or against, the war even if those planes were driven into their front yards.

Most people though need a reminder now and then as to why we are in this. Everyday life and the passage of time just does that to people -- they forget. It is human nature.

As an aside, I think we are doing well in the war.


As a former military member I did not see the hopelessness you saw in Black Hawk Down. It was a tragic, yet uplifting, story to me. It didn't prove that we shouldn't have tried. It proved that we shouldn't have tried in a half-assed manner. If we are going to send our young men and women in harm's way we must be totally committed to the endeavor.

Thus, we need to remain committed to the war on terror and the war in Iraq. We don't need to abandon them before the mission is done.

Really it all boils down to whether or not this movie is well-made. If it is, it will be a stirring tribute to their sacrifice and bravery.

And if not? Well then, let's just hope it is.

JodyTresidder said...

Ann wrote: "I'm not horrified. I'm repelled by actors playing out these scenes. I think it is important to remember what happened, but I don't want some fiction film standing in for the reality."

And here, surely, speaks someone airing an unbudging theory about the impossibility of film ever capturing "reality".

I can't think of a narrative better suited than that flight for film as the medium for deepening our understanding of a particular, appalling reality of 9/11.

Is is that film actors just make you gag on some level? (I have a good friend who is a theatre phobe for a similar reason: she simply cannot abide the ungrownup pretence.)

As many others say, it will obviously depend on the integrity of the whole film.

I'm no fan of Hollywood telling me I "need" to be reminded either, thankyouverymuch. But it's up to me to decide if, for once, the marketing isn't entirely idiotic.

TWM said...

I was thinking about this obviously and something struck me. Is it easier for some reason to see movies about such tragic events if they involve only the military? Black Hawk Down. D-Day. Pearl Harbor.

Perhaps what is repelling is seeing innocents put in that situation.

Just something that struck me.

Wade Garrett said...

Professor Althouse - Referring back to your earlier comments, do you think that there are some events that should never be the basis for a fictional movie? Is it just because you expect the acting to be inadequate?

When Saving Private Ryan came out, I had a few of those same concerns, but then every WW2 veteran in my neighborhood thought it was an excellent movie, and Tom Hanks was honored by just about every veteran's group in the country for his role in that movie. Similarly, I have yet to meet a Jewish person of that generation -- or, really, anybody at all -- who didn't find Schindler's List to be enormously moving and effecting.

jakemanjack said...

The Democrats party is so filled with hate-filled lunatics who blame Bush or the Jews for 9/11, it's no surprise that blue-state voters may not want to see any images of the truth.
The truth scares and angers leftists.
Leftists are much more comfortable with the following assortment of conspiracy theories. Feel free to mix and match:

*Bush did it.
**The Jews/Zionists remote controlled the pilots.
*The CIA did it.
*Cheney did it.
*No Jews were in the towers that day.
*Howard Stern conspiracy: There were no tire tracts at the scene.
*Charlie Sheen and "the scientists" conspiracy: The towers were carefully BLOWN UP, and the airplanes were just a decoy.

(**So, even though the lunatics think the evil Zionists did it, the Palestinians still danced in the streets as a result... essentially that means the Palestinians/Muslim world celebrated something that the Jews did? How weird is that? wow.)

Robert R. said...

Judging from what I've seen of Paul Greengrass's past work, "Bloody Sunday", I'm expecting a good, thoughtful movie. Certainly, it's dramatic enough subject matter. And truthfully, I'd prefer something like this than some indirect metaphor like the "Watchmen" project Greengrass was working on.

I can understand the decision to pull the trailer. Especially from in front of certain films. You go see a movie like "Failure to Launch" and I guess it's because you want to get away from real world problems.

dick said...

With respect to Ann not liking actors playing roles in this movie, do we even have the film to show a documentary of the Flight 93. If we do not then are we just to ignore it as if it did not exist at all? Those of us who are living now and have seen these things and their aftermath (I live in New York and worked on Wall Street and would have been under the WTC at the time of the crash had I been on time to work that day) will remember. Those who in the future will be told of this will have very little to go on that explains what the Flight 93 passengers did and why they did it. That is why I think it is important for films of this type to be made as long as they are well made. There are incidents that just do not have the film footage to make documentaries. Are we to ignore those then for that reason?

R C Dean said...

I did not like a fiction film presenting the material. It should be a documentary. Actors should not be playing out these scenes. I cannot get over the sense of desecration.

I wonder, if you went through the film canon and stripped out every movie which is a "fiction film" that "present[s] material" based on factual events, just which great movies would be done away with.

Any and every Holocaust movie, a great many war movies, a fair number of historical dramas, all the bio-pics.

This seems kind of an extreme position, Ann. I wonder if your objection isn't really more specific.

MadisonMan said...

Those who in the future will be told of this will have very little to go on that explains what the Flight 93 passengers did and why they did it.

Oh, that's just nonsense. Historians will write books about it, by interviewing kin of survivors, and by combing through blogs and news reports. Following your reasoning, we'd know very little of the War of 1812 because a movie wasn't made about it back in 1816.

Unknown said...

I respect what you say about the movie and the events. I'm going to see it to support films that risk something to support our side of this big morally relativistic conflict. I think it was Jim Geraghty who said, some people will never be ready to see it (for political reasons).

MadisonMan, what you imply is that "If the war were succeeding perfectly, ambivalence would evaporate." I'd rather have a war as imperfect as any other than to leave our defense up to the Juan Coles and NYTs of the world.

The Commercial Traveller said...

Ann, you said that "I did think 'Black Hawk Down' was good. I don't know about the message, though. It stimulated hopelessness about fighting, didn't it? One helicopter goes down, and it proves we should have never even tried."

See, I got a very different message from _Black Hawk Down_. I saw it as an indictment of both the U.N.'s impotence in the face of evil and the shameful unwillingness of Americans in the Clinton years to commit to military action.

Clearly, the commanders in Somalia asked for much, much more from Washington and the political powers that were said no--leaving our soldier at the mercy of terrorists.

Laura Reynolds said...

I don't completely agree with Ann's point of view but understand it. I too thought Saving Private Ryan and Schindler's List were well done,

But about documentaries, Shoah (1985) was a 91/2 hour production about the Holocaust using no archived film, interviews mainly. It was an incredible film to watch, I clearly remember the interview with a barber in Israel that admitted he had survived by being a barber whose job is was to shave the heads of people getting ready to be killed. He had to lie to them (his fellow Jews) about why he was doing it. He broke down from 40 years of not dealing with it. Very powerful and very real.

dick said...

You are looking at this from the standpoint of a reader who is into books. I would venture to say that many of the people of this country never crack a book from one year to the next. Are you then going to say that they should remain as ignorant of the Flight 93 as they are of the War of 1812? When you consider that there are people who cannot even come within 100 years of knowing when the Civil War happened and you are saying that it is silly because people will write books about Flight 93 so we don't need to worry about making a movie about it. Unless you are going to be a supreme ruler and stipulate that all of us have to read about all our history then you are going to have a whole lot of people ignorant about these heroes.

Just how many people do you think know of Schindler's List only because of the movie or who get most of their WW II stories from the movies? I would bet that even the story of Anne Frank is known to many only because of the movie. A lot of people will watch the television to get their history but how many will look anywhere else. If there is no film of the happenings then to these people it did not occur.

The Drill SGT said...

On the topic of "Black Hawk Down", I see the story of humanity at its best when Randy Shughart and Gary Gordon volunteered 3 times to jump into near certain death to protect what they thought were 4 injured soldiers in the second downed chopper. Read the paper in Wisconsin each winter and I bet you see a story headlined "2 Die in Attempt to Rescue Child from Half Frozen Lake".

Read and Never Forget hero's like these

Master Sergeant Gordon, United States Army, distinguished himself by actions above and beyond the call of duty on 3 October 1993, while serving as Sniper Team Leader, United States Army Special Operations Command with Task Force Ranger in Mogadishu, Somalia.

Master Sergeant Gordon's sniper team provided precision fires from the lead helicopter during an assault and at two helicopter crash sites, while subjected to intense automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenade fires. When Master Sergeant Gordon learned that ground forces were not immediately available to secure the second crash site, he and another sniper unhesitatingly volunteered to be inserted to protect the four critically wounded personnel, despite being well aware of the growing number of enemy personnel closing in on the site.

After his third request to be inserted, Master Sergeant Gordon received permission to perform his volunteer mission. When debris and enemy ground fires at the site caused them to abort the first attempt, Master Sergeant Gordon was inserted one hundred meters south of the crash site. Equipped with only his sniper rifle and a pistol, Master Sergeant Gordon and his fellow sniper, while under intense small arms fire from the enemy, fought their way through a dense maze of shanties and shacks to reach the critically injured crew members. Master Sergeant Gordon immediately pulled the pilot and the other crew members from the aircraft, establishing a perimeter which placed him and his fellow sniper in the most vulnerable position.

Master Sergeant Gordon used his long range rifle and side arm to kill an undetermined number of attackers until he depleted his ammunition. Master Sergeant Gordon then went back to the wreckage, recovering some of the crew's weapons and ammunition. Despite the fact that he was critically low on ammunition, he provided some of it to the dazed pilot and then radioed for help.

Master Sergeant Gordon continued to travel the perimeter, protecting the downed crew. After his team member was fatally wounded and his own rifle ammunition exhausted, Master Sergeant Gordon returned to the wreckage, recovering a rifle with the last five rounds of ammunition and gave it to the pilot with the words, "good luck." Then, armed only with his pistol, Master Sergeant Gordon continued to fight until he was fatally wounded. His actions saved the pilot's life.

Master Sergeant Gordon's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest standards of military service and reflect great credit upon, his unit and the United States Army.

Unlike Ann I think that I read the story of flight 93 and don't expect weeping and helpless people. I think of hero's who, knowing that they face overwhelming odds, decide to fight back the best that they can. Inaction means death for them and many hundreds of others. Action gives hope and meaning to their final sacrifice. I'll be cheering as they ram the meal cart into the cockpit door.

TWM said...

Well said, drill sgt. To quote Glenn Reynolds I believe -- they were a pack, not a herd.

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks, Drill Sgt. That is a very inspiring story, and of course the words without actors dramatizing them completely tell it. I think actors could fairly tell a story like that, with a great deal of action. But for Flight 93, it will mostly be passengers, including children, who are inactive and looking worried. That is: lots of silent face acting.

The part about the men who act could be done well, given the right screenplay (which will have to make up the dialogue). But that's only a short incident. How do they stretch it out to a feature film? I'm having a hard time picturing how it can be done without resorting to disaster film schlock -- shots of scared children, mothers telling the kids poignant lies, terrorists snapping a people to shut up, etc. This important historical story is going to be padded full of that sort of junk to tug our emotions around.

Richard Dolan said...

Ann says: "I'm not horrified. I'm repelled by actors playing out these scenes. I think it is important to remember what happened, but I don't want some fiction film standing in for the reality. This is not for me about wanting to heal or turning away from violence. It's about the inadequacy of fiction film acting."

However heartfelt, that seems to be an odd reaction to both a movie no one has seen yet, and more generally, the propriety of a fiction writer's efforts to try to express realities about the human condition in ways that history or documentaries cannot. Fiction doesn't "stand in" for history, and those who can't tell the difference are lacking in some basic skills of criticism. It is certainly true that movies dealing with current events having a powerful emotional component often slide into propaganda (if the movie has a particular agenda to which historical events are being bent) on the one hand, or banality and schmaltz (if the agenda is just to come up with a tear-jerker for box office reasons). Either or both would be good reasons to pan the movie if that is the situation with Flight 93. But it's a bit unfair to assume, a priori, that this movie will fall into either of those categories. Perhaps Greenglass has made a really brilliant film -- certainly, let's hope he has.

As I was thinking about Ann's comment, I had a vague recollection of an earlier blog or comment by Ann to the effect that she doesn't care for novels and rarely reads them (if I've confused you with another blogger, please accept my apologies in advance). Perhaps Ann's reaction is just a reflection of a distaste for fiction in general. If so, then this is just a disagreement about one's tastes in literature. But I think she may have a larger point in mind.

If the point is the "inadequacy of fiction film acting," I think you need to see the film to decide whether the acting is "inadequate." If your point is that you don't want "actors playing out these scenes," well, what's so special about these scenes as compared to, say, Richard III or Othello?

The situation aboard United 73 certainly provides great material for a writer to explore the human condition and the human heart, both at its best and worst. In terms of the USA 2006 edition, FLight 93 offers on a small scale the choice sometimes faced by ordinary men in difficult situations between taking "arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end[ing] them," or of dithering or doing something else in the face of evil, to borrow a line from another work of fiction. In short, it seems perfect material for a film.

Since there is no archival film footage about United 73, there is, by definition, no possibility of a documentary about the events on the plane itself -- the only such material that remains are the snatches of conversation recorded either by air traffic control or the people whom the passengers called from the plane. That may give a pretty good idea of what happened, but it's far from enough from which to make a documentary about the events on the plane, unless what you are talking about is a documentary about the general setting (cultural, historical, political, etc.) in which those events occurred or perhaps the reactions by family members or others during the flight and after the crash of the plane.

I haven't seen the trailers for this movie, and probably won't see the movie (unless it's shown at some point on non-premium cable) --but only because I almost never go to the movies. And it's quite possible that the filmmaker may have dealt poorly or dishonorably with his material. But there's nothing inevitable about that, and the opposite is also possible. Surely there are instances where that judgment about a film dealing with powerful historical events packed with emotional content would be unfair and unwarranted -- you mention Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan in a positive way. Perhaps the Greenglass film about Flight 93 will be in the same category.

As for all the blather about "not being ready," at most that's a personal judgment about the emotional state of some (I suspect relatively few) members of the potential audience. They can deal with their own neuroses by electing not to see the film, or walking out if the short trailer is too much for the delicate constitutions. But that's no reason not to show the film or the trailer.

Ann Althouse said...

"what's so special about these scenes as compared to, say, Richard III or Othello?"

The writing.

The Drill SGT said...

I would not use Richard III or Othello as the basis of comparison. I'd use the pre-battle speech by Henry V "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he to-day that sheds his blood with me Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile," or Aragorn before the black gates "I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day", or the President in Independence Day "We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We're going to live on! We're going to survive!"

The trailer is here: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12112802/site/newsweek

As I see the film, it's the full scope of 9/11 but told from the personal perspective of flight 93

The Drill SGT said...

the link may not have come through


Ann Althouse said...

Thanks for the link. I watched the trailer. It was very effective at calling old feelings right back to the surface. I got a very strong feeling of nausea, which persisted several minutes after the trailer ended.

Unknown said...

The A&E version of Flight 93 was quite good and absorbing. It provided a lot of details that I didn't already know and made me appreciate their heroism even more. AFter all it was sort of like the WWII movies with the band of GIs: the Mick, the Italian, etc., only this was a more modern version and the real deal.

Maybe the little screen renders it less fiercely shocking. Re the nausea and whether someone should see it, psychologists are divided as to whether reliving horrific life events provides "resolution." I would be more interested to see the reactions of people who discount the meaning of that day more so than someone like Ann or me or neo-neocon who acknowledge the changes wrought by the day all the time anyway.

OML said...

There have been a number of articles, books and a TV movie depicting what happened on Flight 93, based on the cell phone conversations with family, friends and airline emergency operators. There was first a wonderful article in Vanity Fair that profiled most of the passengers and reconstructed their movements before the flight. The article pointed out the extraordinary make-up of the passengers. I remember reading that this particular group of passengers would have posed a threat to the hijackers - for example, many (most?) of the men were strong and exceptionally athletic. One passenger was a pilot. I don't remember whether the article was excerpted from the book "Among the Heroes - United Flight 93 and the Passengers and Crew Who Fought Back" by Jere Longman (published in July 2002) - but I'm inclined to think it was. The book was very well received. The TV movie aired on A&E last year. I hadn't really planned to watch the movie, but had it on while I was working at my desk on a Saturday afternoon and got caught up in it. It was well done (if a bit sentimental) and switched back and forth between the passengers and the friends, family and airline emergency operators speaking to them on the phone. In reading about Flight 93, I was always struck by how much of what went on on the plane could be reconstructed by the various cell phone conversations. Events were pieced together based on the time lines constructed from the airline operators' logs and the families' noting the times of the calls and saving phone messages. It's a remarkable story. These passengers and crew were heroes. I believe the accounts that they overcame the hijackers - I don't think it was an accident that the plane crashed before hitting a target in DC. There's been talk of awarding the passengers and crew medals - and there are plans for a memorial at the crash site.

I saw the trailer for the new film last week, showing with "Inside Man". I didn't find the trailer disturbing or upsetting. I was surprised to see that this is a theatrical release - given the recent TV version. The cast is not a noteworthy one - although the director is Paul Greengrass, who directed "The Bourne Supremacy" and the upcoming "Bourne Ultimatum" - so it shouldn't be a schlock production.

I don't think it's too soon to tell this story. I live in northern New Jersey, 15 miles from Manhattan. I have family and friends in NYC. Although I didn't personally know anyone who died on 911, I'm connected to people who did lose someone. Or were there that day. Or who saw the towers come down crossing back to NJ on the ferry that morning. I was downtown on business the day before, Sept 10. My boss was in the city that morning. We could see the smoke from nearby points. I know construction workers who helped in the cleanup. I know of school teachers who had to care for school children whose parents didn't pick them up after school that day. Of commuter parking lots with abandoned cars. A co-worker's wife whose firefighter brother was never found. I live 30 miles north of Newark Airport. A few highjackers stayed in a motel in my hometown, were seen at our local mall that Sunday and shopped at our local seafood place - whose owner's cousin worked and died in the WTC. I'm pissed about what happened. And I'm pissed that we've done nothing about it.

This isn't the first film about 911. There were many movies and TV shows released in 2001-2002 that were filmed in NYC or took place in NYC before 911 - where the towers had to be removed from the films (Spiderman and Sex and the City come to mind). Spike Lee's "25th Hour" was the first major film to depict the post 911 city. And Fahrenheit 911 very movingly deals with that day.

Storytelling in all its forms, art, good or bad, should deal with present events. Think of how many World War II films were made during and soon after World War II. Saving Private Ryan may have modern production values, but the story is no more compelling than WWII films from the 40s and 50s. There's something to be gained from both perspectives - telling the story immediately, and telling the story again years or decades later.

Ann Althouse said...

OML: Very well argued and convincing.

knox said...

Madisonman said: "If the war were succeeding, ambivalence would evaporate. Nothing succeeds like success, as they say."

The idea of support a war *only if* things go well is absurd. Jeez, if there's ever a circumstance in which you are guaranteed things WON'T GO WELL, it's war.

Obviously, you would disagree, but to me, your support is meaningless anyway if you offer it and withdraw according to constantly shifting "success" levels.

Not to mention, three years is too soon to expect us to come in and rebuild the government and infrastructure like a breeze.

knox said...

As an aside, anyone who hasn't read "Black Hawk Down" it is really fantastic. I highly recommend it. If someone asked me for a quote for the back of the book, I'd say:

"A tour de force...Gripping... I couldn't put it down!"