United 93 Blu-ray review

Although high definition is not necessarily the point of the film, it is understandable that United 93 is being released on Blu-ray the same week as the 10-year anniversary of 9/11. United 93 does its best to downplay many of the elements which would usually be played up. In the preparation for a day of flights we join the air traffic control as well as the airline staff of flight 93, but their daily functions are not sensationalized. Instead we are brought into their world, which is as ordinary and routine as one day to the next. It is in these mundane details of an ordinary day that the true power of anticipation begins to build significance, making daily actions such as shutting the plane’s door or having a conversation about future vacation plans truly poignant.

            Filmed in a near documentary style, United 93 appropriately never goes into details about the specific lives of any individual passenger. Instead we are allowed admittance onto the fourth plane to be hijacked on September 11, 2001. We enter the plane, the same as all of the passengers, only we have the knowledge that it will be the last trip any of these people will take. We also enter into a days work at flight control, with knowledge that it will not be an ordinary day. Perhaps the most difficult reaction to United 93 will come from the distant witnessing of the planes hitting the World Trade Center. The way the characters find out in the film may remind many people of the way that they witnessed the tragedy, through a television, from a family member or even through a window.

            The distance we witness the disaster through is counter to the way we witness the events on the plane. We are allowed to hear all of the whispered conversations at the back of the plane, often all at once so that we can only pick up pieces of each conversation. Although we are allowed to witness these last private moments, the script always stays respectfully on target, never allowing a heart-warming speech into a telephone while the music swells. Instead the lives of those on the plane are kept private, and only the collective effort of the brave Americans is what stands.

            The Blu-ray has a fifty-minute documentary that has interviews with the families of those who died on the flight, which is often more difficult to view than the film itself. There are also memorial pages, which contain 40 written biographies, as written about the passengers by family and friends. A bit more traditional is the feature commentary with director Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Supremacy). There is also a two-disc limited edition available as well, which contains “Chasing Planes: Witnesses to 9/11”, an extra 48-minute documentary.


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