Wednesday, May 03, 2006

"United 93"

Life is full of strange combinations. Some, like say, chocolate milk and red wine, just don't work together, no matter what blender setting you use. I am happy to report that seeing United 93 last night with one Mr. Bruce Vilanch sitting behind us is a combo that actually, sort of, works. Which is to say, I was pretty much able to screen out his larger-than-life- off-duty-clown aura, and concentrate on the movie... something I wasn't sure I'd be able to muster when he first smooshed himself into a seat...

I'm not going to say too much about the film, though it brings up a thousand important conversations. It's a brutal and deeply affecting minute to minute replay. My heart was pounding so hard I feared long term repercussions. Sarah went to the ladies' room half-way through and had to force herself back into the theater. It's this peculiar, masochistic need for a 9-11 replay that intrigues me.

Let me try to say what I'm thinking mathematically: USA + 9-11 > USA - 9-11.

Without the tragedy, we the people are still asleep in our blissful American dream, collectively ignorant to the reality of the larger geo-political world. With the tragedy, we have undergone a cruel (and arguably necessary) collective awakening that will forever change not only the practical experience of being American, but the spiritual or mythic experience as well.

If you will: A young woman who has recently lost her virginity may be tempted to relive the before, the during, and the after, over and over in her imagination. Why? In order to process and understand the growth and the irreversible course of events that have taken place on her path to womanhood. I'm not drawing a direct equation here, so please spare me the hate mail. I'm just saying that the American narrative has been forever altered and it's natural that we should want to relive the event in question.

The movie does a good job of presenting the facts and shutting up. It's entirely up to us to decide how to reprocess these events with 4+ years remove. How we weave this horror into our national story is a collective effort, and I think Mr. Greengrass, for all of his ability to capture the raw brutality, has a subtle touch when it comes to leaving our reactions unmanipulated. I can hardly imagine the same can be said for Mr. Stone and his impending rehash.

Which comes first the actual event or the dramatization? I can't help but wonder if in the years to come a Google search for "United 93" will yield first a film or a doomed airplane. Today, the film holds the top slots which is in keeping with an American yearning for dramatization. Could our unconscious thirst for drama invite certain horrors into being?


Blogger Reel Fanatic said...

Bruce Vilanch and United 93 ... that is indeed an odd combo! .. I'm glad I got up the nerve to this very good and very important film, but I'm sure I never need to again .. I have to confess that at several points in the harrowing final act, knowing well how it would all end, I had to turn away from the screen at several points

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