It’s been almost five years. Five long years since we witnessed the Twin Towers fall to the ground, the demolition of the Pentagon and a newfound sense of vulnerability in our country. But is five years enough time to relive it all again?
Director Paul Greengrass thinks so. In his new film, “United 93,” Greengrass tells the story of United Airlines flight 93 and its fateful journey on Sept. 11, 2001. The plane, which carried 37 passengers and seven crew members, was overtaken by four hijackers early that morning and crashed in Shanksville, Penn. All 44 people died.
Though it is speculated that the hijackers had planned the Capitol as their target, what went wrong is still disputed. What is known is that passengers were alerted by cell phone as to what had occurred elsewhere that morning. Many believe the passengers revolted against the hijackers and forced them to crash the plane so as not to hit their target; others say the hijackers drove the machine into the earth to prevent the passengers from seizing control; and then there are others who argue the plane was shot down. In making this film, Greengrass merely based a controversial film on one theory, all the while throwing salt on healing wounds.
But all speculation aside, is this what entertainment has come to? Americans watching their fellow Americans die as a source of entertainment? I realize that America has not faced the destruction and warfare other countries have experienced throughout several centuries, but events like Sept. 11 and Pearl Harbor should not be taken lightly or used as a pawn for the entertainment industry. They are terrible tragedies that deserve respect, which is something that is not being given to the friends and families of 3,000 Sept. 11 victims by making this film. The director of the first Pearl Harbor movie, “From Here to Eternity,” was courteous enough to wait 12 years after the incident to make the movie in 1953.
The trailer for “United 93,” which can be found online and in the previews before “Inside Man,” has caused an uproar in itself. A Manhattan movie theater refused to show the trailer due to the sensitivities of New Yorkers who have dealt with the aftermath of the World Trade Center.
Despite the strong reaction the trailer has caused and the complaints of concerned citizens and families, Universal has refused to pull the trailer – or the film.
Perhaps Hollywood has become desperate and views such a tragedy as a chance to make money. Paramount will follow the trend by releasing “World Trade Center” in August, a movie directed by Oliver Stone and starring Nicholas Cage.
Greengrass’ film debuts at an interesting time, when Zacarias Massaoui is on trial in Virginia for his connection with the Sept. 11 attacks. The cockpit voice recording of flight 93 was played for the first time publicly at Massaoui’s trial on Wednesday. America is still seeking justice for what happened and the families are seeking resolution. This is no time for a movie about such sensitive matters.
For those of you that wish to relive the deaths of fellow Americans through this film, that is your choice. But remember, many families did not choose for this film to be made and their loved ones’ deaths recreated. If it doesn’t warrant their support, it doesn’t warrant mine either.
Kristen Marschall is a journalism sophomore and a Mustang Daily reporter and editor.