A few thoughts on ‘United 93’

A still from 'United 93'United 93, which details the story of the fourth plane hijacked on 9/11 that crashed in Pennsylvania, is a powerful, extremely intense and very heart-wrenching film. It plays just like a documentary, without pinpointing villains or heroes. It tells –- or attempts to tell — the story as it happened. It is the story of the tragic deaths of the passengers of United flight 93 who perished due to the acts of kidnappers that believed they were executing a divine mission. I might be mistaken but I have a feeling that the movie might not be shown in the Arab world, as some might be offended by scenes where the kidnappers recite religious passages. Here is what renowned film critic Roger Ebert had to say about this:

The film begins on a black screen, and we hear one of the hijackers reading aloud from the Koran. There are scenes of the hijackers at prayer, and many occasions when they evoke God and dedicate themselves to him. These details may offend some viewers, but are almost certainly accurate; the hijacking and destruction of the four planes was carried out as a divine mission. That the majority of Muslims disapprove of terrorism goes without saying; on 9/12, there was a candlelight vigil in Iran for the United States. That the terrorists found justification in religion also goes without saying.

Most nations at most times go into battle evoking the protection of their gods. But the film doesn’t depict the terrorists as villains. It has no need to. Like everyone else in the movie they are people of ordinary appearance, going about their business. "United 93" is incomparably more powerful because it depicts all of its characters as people trapped in an inexorable progress toward tragedy. The movie contains no politics. No theory. No personal chit-chat. No patriotic speeches. We never see the big picture.

I personally believe the movie should be screened worldwide, as it brings to life the evil face of terrorism that, sadly enough, is still condoned by a small minority. I also found it intriguing that the movie made a point of refuting widely spread allegations that the plane was shot down by the US military. The movie ends with facts proving the plane actually did crash. One fact highlighted in the film is that the military was unaware that United 93 was hijacked until after it crashed. Please bear in mind that director Paul Greengrass is not American. He is British. Meanwhile, Tunisian blogger Leilouta has an interesting post about the conspiracy theories that are resurfacing following the release of the film. She says:

Talk surrounding this movie has brought up many of the conspiracy theories we are so famous for in the Arab world. Specifically the conspiracy that says it was not a plane that hit the Pentagon but some US/Israel plot. Because they didn’t see the plane hit the Pentagon they assume that it must be a conspiracy. My husband even heard this in Tunisia. It also doesn’t help when some French author takes advantage of these views and writes a book to make money and get famous off this tragedy.

Many people in this area know what happened that day because someone they know was on that plane or was on the ground helping with the rescue effort or was in the building. My husband is one of them. A woman from the company he worked for was on the plane. She left behind a husband and two teenage daughters. Before anyone tries to comment with a different theory maybe you could go to a firehouse in Virginia and tell your theory to them or try asking anyone who was at the Pentagon that day.

On the flip side Jordanian blogger Bakkouz is quite angry with the movie. All in all, I would recommend this film in a heartbeat.


  1. bakkouz May 4, 2006 at 11:43 pm

    Hey there,
    I’m not really angered by the movie per se, but by the whole issue of the 911 and its mysterious events, and the presumption that it was a terrorist act to begin with, i am angry at the lies that we are being fed and asked to beleive without any evidence or proof, I shall try to elaborate further;
    First the movie, i shall not get into a deep critique and try to analyze the movie scene by scene but lets just look at the first paragraph of the quoted text by Mr. Ebert:
    “…and we hear one of the hijackers reading aloud from the Koran” – How exactly did the script writers know that happened? And why was it necessary for the alleged Hijackers to read the Quran aloud and at the very beginning of the movie? it is infact in order to establish a connection between Quran and terrorism and to imprint this fact in the viewers mind througt the whole movie.
    “…There are scenes of the hijackers at prayer, and many occasions when they evoke God and dedicate themselves to him” – I fail to see the necessity of these scenes other than to again establish a link between terrorism and islam.
    …These details may offend some viewers, but are almost certainly accurate” – hold on, “almost certainly accurate”? what does that mean, as far as i know an event if supported by FACTS can be accurate or inaccuate, but how can it be “almost” accurate? that only means that it is not supported by fact but by speculation, sorry but details built on speculation do not count as accurate. and what does he base his judgment upon? who told him? did he or the script writers manage to communiate with any of the passengers in some mysterious way to confirm these details so as to pass as “almost certainly accurate”?
    Sorry but I don’t beleive in specualtion and drama that serves the sole and only pupose of provoking hate against a certain ethnic group, i beleive in fact and proven evidence.
    and speaking of fact and evidence, did flight 93 really crash in Pennsylvania? Where are the remains of the plane? have you seen the actual news and media live coverage of the event and the crash site? There are none, no remains, no body parts, no engine parts, no human bodies, not a single drop of blood, just a hole in the ground, we are to beleive that a jet just crashed and evaporated into thin air without leaving any trace at all? this is sceienitify impossible, and this is also the case for the alleged plane that hit the pentagon.
    Now i ask you, have you seen the movie i talk about and posted the link for in my blog? i strongly suggest you do, open your eyes to the truth of proven sceintific fact and don’t let the drama of guided media cloud your reason and judgment.
    That is all, Thank you and god bless 🙂

  2. David May 5, 2006 at 2:12 am

    I’m looking forward to seeing the movie. I hope it comes to Jordan.

  3. dm May 5, 2006 at 3:16 am

    I saw this movie and thought it was very well done. It wasn’t political, which I appreciated. I personally know people who were on American Airlines flight 11 and will never forget that horrid day.
    I believe that only those on the planes truly know what went on. Nonetheless, the terrorists that caused this are pure evil, and I feel that this movie portrayed those victims on flight 93 as the true heroes that they are.

  4. tblubrd May 5, 2006 at 9:01 am

    I think it is well worth a read to check this link for Neptunus Lex. His description of why he will see this movie has the same ring for why I will see this movie. He has written a profound piece and is quite honest in his approach.
    I will see this too, Natasha. But not because you urged me to do so – although your comments are appreciated. I will see this because of what Dave Beamer, Todd Beamer’s father, had to say:
    “This film further reminds us of the nature of the enemy we face. An enemy who will stop at nothing to achieve world domination and force a life devoid of freedom upon all. Their methods are inhumane and their targets are the innocent and unsuspecting. We call this conflict the “War on Terror.” This film is a wake-up call. And although we abhor terrorism as a tactic, we are at war with a real enemy and it is personal.
    There are those who would hope to escape the pain of war. Can’t we just live and let live and pretend every thing is OK? Let’s discuss, negotiate, reason together. The film accurately shows an enemy who will stop at nothing in a quest for control. This enemy does not seek our resources, our land or our materials, but rather to alter our very way of life.
    I encourage my fellow Americans and free people everywhere to see “United 93.”
    Be reminded of our very real enemy. Be inspired by a true story of heroic actions taken by ordinary people with victorious consequences. Be thankful for each precious day of life with a loved one and make the most of it. Resolve to take the right action in the situations of life, whatever they may be. Resolve to give thanks and support to those men, women, leaders and commanders who to this day (1,687 days since Sept. 11, 2001) continue the counterattacks on our enemy and in so doing keep us safe and our freedoms intact.
    May the taste of freedom for people of the Middle East hasten victory. The enemy we face does not have the word “surrender” in their dictionary. We must not have the word “retreat” in ours. We surely want our troops home as soon as possible. That said, they cannot come home in retreat. They must come home victoriously. Pray for them.”

    As for Bakkouz, wake up kid. Only about ten people in the world believe your humourous conspiracy theory – or your “movie”.

  5. Craig Turner May 5, 2006 at 9:11 am

    Bakkouz, I suppose they put the Quran and prayer in the movie because it was broadcast, and recorded, over the planes communication to the air traffic controllers.
    On a different subject, Natasha, where are some pictures from your trip home? I saw the few posted, but lets see more of your homeland, its markets and people…please. Thanks, take care.

  6. Hamako May 5, 2006 at 10:50 am

    “I suppose they put the Quran and prayer in the movie because it was broadcast, and recorded, over the planes communication to the air traffic controllers.” C. Turner
    I thought the military had no idea that the plane crashed until in hit the ground. hmmmmm. I know, I know, that’s besides the point.

  7. Hamako May 5, 2006 at 10:51 am

    Edit: I thought the military had no idea that the plane was “hijaked” until it hit the ground.

  8. natasha May 5, 2006 at 11:05 am

    Dear Hamako,
    I might be mistaken but what I understood from the movie was that it was the air controllers who first realized that United 93 was hijacked. By the time the military was informed the plane had already crashed. Anyway, I think you should watch the movie to understand what I’m babbling about;)

  9. Abu Kais May 5, 2006 at 1:16 pm

    Bakkouz: “I’m not really angered by the movie per se, but by the whole issue of the 911 and its mysterious events, and the presumption that it was a terrorist act to begin with, i am angry at the lies that we are being fed and asked to beleive without any evidence or proof.”
    Bakkouz, the only mystery here is how a brain like yours functions, or doesn’t, as is apparent by the nonsense you posted.

  10. Hamako May 5, 2006 at 1:19 pm

    Thanks, I was plannig to do so last night, but alas, theatres in connecticut have failed me. I’m sure I’ll find a showing in NY this weekend. Also, babbling is great, keep it coming.

  11. Passerby May 5, 2006 at 6:49 pm

    On 9/11 … on ‘United 93’
    I just happened to come across natasha’s and bakkouz’s post.
    I am happy that someone (among many others) in Jordan is voicing their views on 9/11 in a rational manner like him as opposed to people like Homammad who are full of hate and have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about, it’s not like you don’t have schools and libraries over where you live?? Geez. Anyhow, the point is, humans are not hard to brainwash in the sense that when you keep hearing the same thing over and OVER again on CNN you just accept it, even though you might have a doubt somewhere in the back of your brain that tells you maybe there’s more. That’s what happened with me. I have watched Loose Change and In Plain Sight, and they were just a starting point, a wake up call, to say: people open your eyes and minds, and all your senses. There are so many other resources on the matter! So much that is documented and well investigated. You just have to dig it up cause it’s not going to be given to you on TV or the world will go mad. For people who care about their county, go look them up. Do your part and don’t just accept what the mainstream media wants you to accept. It’s common sense. Everything that was reported after – and I say “after” a few days of september 11th has been different than on the day of, there has been statements which were never repeated, which leaves so many questions. Why was building 7 pulled down? why hasn’t that been in the news except once (on 9/11)?? There was such a hype on the twin towers yet nothing on building 7. It Collapsed!! Do you remember? And for God’s sakes… How can the towers fall in that manner from a plane crash? Nobody denies that the Pentagon was hit (in reply to Chris), but how it was hit. Planes leave a lot of remains after they crash, something that gives the impression of a plane. We have to ask ourselves these questions. Where were the black boxes after the crashes? how come a passport survives a crash but a black box doesn’t?? I do not have to comment on how ridiculous that is. In the black boxes were reported to have been found and pulled away by officials. My argument is that if there was so much that was covered up from American people, then that itself is an indication of foul play. I don’t need to say any more. I know that a lot of Americans think so, but not enough of them do in order to make a difference. Hopefully the details will keep spreading thanks to fast communication and information spreading. I urge everyone to watch Loose Change and In Plain Sight. Very important documentaries. You don’t have to believe anything, just watch it and judge for yourself. If you’re still convinced by what you heard on fox and cnn still then be it.
    On another note, I could not finish watching United 93 in the theatre. I left. It was that bad. I hope they do not show it in Jordan it will make people very angry. I am christian, so unreligious, and half Canadian: and I tell you I was appalled, the movie was horrible. It is such a sensitive time for people who have lost victims in 9/11, for them to watch such a badly written and acted out depiction of what is still a fresh incident. Oh and just a note, who ever said it was accurate, please do some research before you utter such a bold statement. It was far from accurate, far from un-biased and un-political. Religion is politics. Full stop. If you don’t think so then you’re living in ignorance. For the last year all we hear from the Bush administration is that the so-called war against terrorism is targeted at “islamist” terrorists, a people who happen to share the same religion.. hmmmm… hint? All these targeted people need is another propaganda, their image is already so bad it has affected every middle eastern living in the west muslim and non-muslim. United 93 is a boring, weakly directed and horribly written, overstated propaganda. I am sorry I contributed $10 to the box office for it.
    Someday, someday in the near future perhaps, people will have realized what things they’ve been overlooking and what things they’ve been lied about.

  12. Passerby May 5, 2006 at 7:15 pm

    One more note on the movie.. natasha..
    “It plays just like a documentary, without pinpointing villains or heroes. It tells –- or attempts to tell — the story as it happened”
    The moment I went into the theatre I was determined to watch the film with no bias or pre-judgement on the possibility of it being another piece of propaganda. The reason why I could not keep watching the movie is precisely because it was so overstated and meant to pinpoint on Islam as a religion, hence was very political. I myself am not a muslim, however I do know a lot about it as I have lived in Jordan before moving to Canada, and I tell you: starting a film with verses from the Koran is pinpointing a religion. The world already knows of islamic fundamentalists, they don’t need misinformative depictions of the religion. Throwing verses from the Koran like that while in the plane repeating “divine” statements is not a clean approach to the depiction of what happened that day. A tribute to the victims of 9/11 would be a much more toned-down approach to the religion and a focus on the real lives of passengers. The movie is not meant to be a documentary hence it is maybe ok that it is far from being accurate. However, it wasn’t informative at all.
    If I had never lived in a muslim country or had muslim friends perhaps I would have taken that moment in the beginning of the film to heart, I don’t know. It would have left a sriking, alarming and misinformed feeling towards the religion. The movie definitely had a message, and it wasn’t the suffering of victim passengers.
    On what Ebert said
    “The movie contains no politics. No theory. No personal chit-chat. No patriotic speeches. We never see the big picture.”
    It unmistakably contains politics as I have mentioned, also theory — lets face it, there are alternative theories out there that prove counter to what the official story has. Hence, the movie contains theory: it overstated that theory in fact. No personal chit-chat? I thought the whole script was personal chit-chat except for the Koran verses maybe. They were directed to the viewer. Patriotic Speeches? The movie is a clear patriotic statement. The big picture? I think anyone would agree with me that there was a big picture, which was ” The official story is final. We made a movie out of it, and kind of twisted the details for more drama”.

  13. Anonymous May 6, 2006 at 4:24 am

    I stick to my original theme on this blog as I always do.
    Why did all this happen? Why did 9/11 happen. Who are the people that did it? Who are Al Qaeda? How did they become powerful? How can they be stopped?
    Address the root cause of the problem not symptoms.
    How many people after 9/11 stopped and said why did this happen? Its very easy to say the people that did it are evil, no one can disagree with that. Its very easy to say things like that should not happen. But why why why for God’s sake did these things happen?
    Another interesting question that I wondered about, is it possible that these guys highjacked the plains with simple kinves as been stated or did they get passed security at the airports with some sort of a weapon?

  14. bakkouz May 6, 2006 at 5:59 am

    natasha, i never attacked or insulted you, so please do not insult me or my intelligence, please try to be civil and not insult people just becuase they have a different view from yours.
    and if you consider what i wrote nonsense then tell me what happened to the plane? and how come it crashed and never left any remains? how the hell does a plane crash into a field and not leave any body parts or engine parts, no human bodies, Nothing! Now thats nonsense.
    oh and i happen to have a degree in telecommunications engineering and an MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer) certificate, so yeah i think my brain functions just fine.

  15. bakkouz May 6, 2006 at 6:01 am

    Sorry, my latest comment was directed at abu kais not Natasha, I apologise for this error.

  16. natasha May 6, 2006 at 11:04 am

    Thank you Mazin. As Jeff told you it is already in the newswire section of Mental Mayhem but I will blog about it right now!

  17. dm May 6, 2006 at 6:16 pm

    It is my understanding that they did find engines to the planes. At least I heard that the engine from flight 93 was found. Debris from all of the aircrafts was found as well — both at ground zero in NYC and in Shankesville (although I never really heard anything about AA 77 that crashed into the pentagon).
    What about the phone calls made by the passengers on flight 93 as well as the phone call from Amy Sweeney, the flight attendant on AA flight 11. Each testified to a hijacking – all with similar themes. Also, they have voice recordings of the hijackers when the switch in the cockpit was flipped to ground control.
    As I’ve stated before, I know someone who was on AA flight 11 so this can be a sensitive subject with me.
    Lastly, when a plane comes speeding to the ground from 35,000 feet in the air at 800mph, when in crashes it disintegrates — as does the human body.
    I’m seriously not trying to argue with you so please do not misunderstand me, but I’m curious as to whether I am understanding you correctly. Do you think it was a hoax or do you just question what happened?

  18. bakkouz May 7, 2006 at 1:34 am

    As for NYC i don’t doubt that planes crashed into the two towers, I never said they didn’t but i do beleive the planes were not the cause of the towers collapsing, In the case of flight 93, I don’t have any information about engines being found, Live Media coverage of the event, photos, Eye witness testimonies (cops and medical examiners) confirm no debris at the site, so i don’t know when and where were these engines found? This is not the first time in history a plane has crashed, and in each and every single incident crashing planes have left debris, except in the case of flight 93, why is that?


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