I didn’t blog last night because I was watching an incredible movie that left me feeling simultaneously too wired and too wiped out to write when it was over. The movie was Flight 93 (A&E channel), a dramatization about the 9/11 passengers and crew who fought back against the terrorists to prevent the jet from being flown into the White House or Capitol Building. Based on research, interviews and facts from the public record, the movie has a disconcerting realism that wrapped me in feelings that were equal parts outrage and helplessness.
When I first heard that a made-for-tv movie about this was going to be on I didn’t have a very positive reaction. I thought it would either be overly sappy or, worse, try too hard to “understand” the terrorists. I didn’t watch when it debuted Monday night, but heard positive reviews so I decided to check it out when it was rebroadcast Tuesday night (remaining re-broadcast schedule at the end of this post).
Even knowing the ultimate outcome (or maybe because I knew) I found my heart pounding from the opening, quiet moments of the movie. There’s no back-story on any of the people involved although a few things are hinted at in snippets of conversation or in glimpses at carry-on items; you don’t “meet” anyone anymore than you do when boarding an airplane. The story essentially takes place within the timeframe from the beginning to the end of the flight. As a viewer you get a vivid sense of how surreal the situation was as passengers, families at home, the citizenry, the media and the authorities all tried to wrap their minds around what was happening. Sometimes I almost wanted to shout at the television because it was so frustrating to see elements of the big picture already in my head revealed bit by bit and wanting the people in the film to understand. That same sense, however, also helped me to marvel at how quickly the people on board ultimately were able to not only understand but process, accept, adapt and act on that understanding. Can you imagine what it would take for you, going about your daily business, to completely re-order your reality to the point where you are making life and death decisions within a span of a couple of hours?
Adding to the compelling eeriness of the film is that it is so brightly and cleanly lit. No “Bourne Supremacy” type of dark edges and stylized blurred action; we see the bright light and clean lines we’re accustomed to in modern jets and the sunny, “just another day” weather around the homes of families talking to their doomed loved ones on the telephone. It all certainly heightens the “how can this really be happening” sense of everyone involved. It’s heart-breaking to see the families trying to cope while hoping for the best, and to think what it must be like for these same families to see themselves and their loved ones portrayed in this film.
While certain parts of what actually happened have to be conjecture, there is a remarkable amount of information available because of the communications that were sent and received, and it’s hard not to be caught up in the story or to imagine how you yourself would be reacting in the same circumstances. 9/11 wasn’t the day the world changed; that happened long before. It was, however, the day we realized the world had changed. Flight 93 is a timely and gripping story without patriotic rants and Boris Badinov cartoon villains and it resonates in these days when so many seem determined to forget the hard lessons learned that day.
Rebroadcasts this week (all times EST) on A&E:
Wednesday, Feb. 1 — 9:00 pm
Thursday, Feb. 2 — 1:00 am
Saturday, Feb. 4 — 12:00 pm
Sunday, Feb. 5 — 12:00pm
Welcome to visitors following Amy Ridenour’s National Center link to this post. I’m honored by Amy’s link and appreciate your interest.
Encouraged by this development, I’ve submitted this post to this weekend’s Open Trackback Alliance collection via the OTA portal at The Crazy Rants of Samantha Burns.