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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.