‘United 93’ depicts real-life heroes and tragedy

Justin Satzman

I don’t know why I needed to see this movie so badly, but I am glad that I did. The movie I am referring to is “United 93.” It was almost an obsession; I really felt I had to see it. I am known for being a history fan, but I think it was more than that. I strongly recommend that people see this movie.

For one, it is an incredible movie. I know that it is not a good thing to say a movie about September 11 is incredible, but it was, and we as a country need to see it. It lets us in on what happened on that flight more than any other story that we have heard or seen.

The one thing that I am getting tired of hearing is that the movie is not sensitive to the families of those who died on United 93, and it exploits the events of 9/11 for financial gain. Both could not be more inaccurate.

First of all, the majority of the families wanted the movie to be made, as long as it was realistic. Hamilton Preston, who lost his father and is the president of Families of Flight 93, compared the movie to “Schindler’s List.” If any of you saw “Schindler’s List,” you would know the impact that had on moviegoers.

The second criticism of the movie is that director Paul Greengrass exploits the events for money. Greengrass, however, donated 10 percent of the opening weekend’s gross to the Flight 93 National Memorial Fund. While 10 percent does not sound like much, in reality it was more than a million dollars. So giving away that amount of money to a fund does not sound like taking advantage of anything to me.

Plus, if Greengrass were exploiting the events of 9/11 for financial gain, then he would have made the movie with more action and a more heroic ending, like most movies that are made in Hollywood. But Greengrass stuck to everything that was correct about the event.

One of the best parts about the movie was that it did not just focus on the actual flight, but the struggles that all the various organizations dealt with that day. In the scenes with the FAA struggling to figure out why the pilots of all the hijacked planes were not responding, you can see how unprepared that organization was when it came to dealing with the situation.

The film also depicts the military and how they could not even get ground clearance to send jets up to see what was going on with these flights. You never hear about that on the news. Then, when it came to debating if it is legal or possible to shoot the planes down, the military leader was not sure. This is how the film showed the realistic view of how unprepared the country was for an event like this.

And at the end of the movie, we as moviegoers learn that the closest fighter jet was more than a hundred miles away from where United 93 crashed in Pennsylvania.

But the saddest part about this was the fact that neither President George W. Bush nor Vice President Dick Cheney could be found. Now, I am used to Cheney disappearing, but it is still sad that Bush could not be contacted until after the first plane hit the World Trade Center. Greengrass showed how impossible it was to reach anyone from the administration, which was inexcusable.

Another great angle that this movie takes is that United 93 was the flight that was talked about the least of all the flights that went down that day. It probably was not talked about because it was the only plane that did not reach its target, which was the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. So as audience members, we learn about the plane was rarely talked about by anyone.

This was the most emotional movie I have seen since “Saving Private Ryan,” and that is a good thing. As a country, we need to see the harsh reality that we go through. We sugarcoat things way too much, and that is not a healthy thing to do. It basically says that we do not want to deal with reality. “United 93” tells the straight-up truth, which is why I recommend you all see it.

You will be disturbed, sad and speechless. But you will also see the true definition of heroes. You will see that heroes do not make incredible shots from half-court and heroes do not make movies. “United 93” shows that true heroes make sacrifices – sometimes the ultimate sacrifice – for the good of others.

I strongly suggest that you see “United 93.”

Justin Satzman can be reached at sports_sundial@csun.edu.