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Monday, May 08, 2006

Musing Pictures: United 93

Yes, yes, I know, I know, it's too early to make a film about the events of September 11... or, at least, that's what I keep hearing.

I know that people aren't forgetting that, in fact, there was plenty of filmmaking going on about that difficult day very quickly after the events themselves took place. There was even "9/11", a striking, moving documentary about the whole ordeal that was completed by March, 2002, and broadcast on national television on the one-year anniversary of the attacks (http://http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0312318/). It was nominated for five Emmy awards (and won two of them). And how many documentaries have there been about it since then? A few hundred? A thousand?

"But those are documentaries!" some might say, arguing that this somehow gives them more credibility. Take a look at one of the Emmys that "9/11" took home -- "Outstanding Sound Mixing for Non-Fiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)" It's an incredible mix, but let that be a reminder to all of us that even when we're watching a documentary, what we hear is rarely a "document" of the sounds of what we're seeing. In some ways, it can be the best kind of historical fiction.

But I digress. There is a new film out now, "United 93", directed by Paul Greengrass (yes, the guy behind "The Bourne Supremacy") and it doesn't pretend to be a "document" of the events themselves...

So, perhaps, here's a point of comparison: Documentaries try to portray truth as-it-is, or as-it-was -- 'show the historical film, show the "experts" talking about the historical film (although, to its credit, "9/11" has no "experts"), present all the visual materials as "evidence" of something, and then make your point.'

The fear about "United 93" is the fear about any fiction that attempts to tell history as narrative: In the conversion from history to narrative, certain details are lost, and certain interpretations that do not exist in the threads of fate make their way in to the storytelling. This happens to be true about documentaries, but for some reason, this doesn't bother people as much.

Now, yes, I do feel that it is too soon for certain treatments of the 9/11 attacks -- a "Towering Inferno" or "Poseidon Adventure" type of approach (i.e. '70s disaster film with an ensemble cast and a happy ending except for the death of someone we like) would be awfully disrespectful (yes, the date and its events have attained a certain secular sacredness, it seems), but "United 93" stays very clear of all of that.

In some ways, "United 93" acheives something that documentaries can not acheive (some might say that they can, on rare occasions, but I have yet to see it). It tells the history as fiction, allowing the viewer to enter the scene as one enters a story -- without concern for one's own well-being, because stories aren't real -- the monsters can't hurt us. When we see a documentary, we know that we are seeing something real (even if it isn't), whereas when we see a fictional narrative film (especially a Hollywood film, and especially in the theater), we know that we are seeing something that is ultimately fake (even if it isn't).

Much of the cast of "United 93" is composed of people playing themselves. Air traffic controllers, military leaders and mid-level bureaucrats in the film are often not actors, not even re-enactors, but the actual people who were involved in the actual events on which the film is based. In a documentary, they would be talking to us directly, through the screen. We can not feel what they felt -- even if the scene is re-enacted in a documentary. On the other hand, if these were all actors in the scene, re-enacting the experiences of people not-themselves, we might feel empathy for the characters as we watch, but the "this is fiction" safety net is always there for us to fall back on if we need it. Fascinatingly, since we are in a movie theater, and since we know this to be a Hollywood film, we let ourselves deep in to its fiction, only to discover that the fictionality of it is very thin -- thinner than even a very carefully researched re-enactment, because many of the re-enactors act from first-hand experience. It becomes a much more emotionally dangerous film because it is almost participation -- certainly it is closer to participation than a documentary could provide.

So, is it too soon for this film to happen?

Imagine if a film were made before 1950 about the Holocaust with survivors or liberators or what have you honestly and genuinely returning to the "scene" of the crime, re-creating it for the rest of the world to see, understand and remember. Imagine how much more powerful it would be than even the best documentaries or the most careful, sensitive re-creations. I am thinking now to the future -- fifty years or so, let's say. Sure, there will be plenty of folks who remember the events of September 11, 2001, but how many of them will remember well enough to act their reactions out, to demonstrate the shock of it? Will there ever be actors who can "fake" it well enough for anyone to understand? Despite all the films about Pearl Harbor, do any of us who do not remember that day have even the foggiest idea of how shocking it was?

I can't speak for every piece of fictionalization that will be coming out about the 9/11 attacks over the course of the next few years, but I can say that "United 93" could not have waited a moment longer. It is a closer account of the events than just about any documentary (perhaps with the exception of the Naudet Brothers' film), and it is a more involving and more directly emotional account than I expect any films could be many years from now, because the people who made it, who are in it, were in it.

And of course, none of this has anything to do with the goings-on on the airplane itself, which, of course, is somewhere near the center of the film... Perhaps I'll leave that for another conversation.

-AzS

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Naudet "brothers" had foreknowledge, their movie was intended to be about S11 all along, ever since they started filming in June 2001:

http://911foreknowledge.com


As for UA93, it couldn't have crashed where we're told it did, because all that was there was a smoking hole in the ground:

http://thewebfairy.com/911/93

AzS said...

I have little choice but to take a film as it is presented, either in itself or via its historical context. Conspiracy theory, until it is no longer theory, barely plays any role in a film's place in pop-culture.

As to the two theories that you present (with accompanying hyperlinks), I have no reason to need to believe or consider them. The "9/11" documentary is a powerful, delicate documentary, and if the filmmakers had alterior motives (to make a 'snuff film', according to that site's claim), they did not follow through on that motive. As to the claim that there is some sort of bizarre cover-up regarding Flight 93, I pose this thought: Do you think that there is any government currently in power anywhere in the world that would be able to generate a cover-up of such a magnitude that it could fake 1/4 of its own national tradgedy? Or all of it? Now, would that same government (hypothetical government, no less) be able to pull off such a cover-up without alerting a free press? Now, a step beyond that, would this hypothetical government that somehow manages to fake 1/4 of its own national tradgedy despite a free press even go through this trouble at all if every elite member of this government faced a term limit that would end his or her current career within less than a decade? Is it really worth all of that trouble just to have something to do for four-to-eight years?

This is a film blog, so I'll connect it back. Conspiracy theories rarely make good movie material (although one might expect otherwise). The reason that they rarely make good movie material is that they rarely make any sense. Even the recent "V for Vendetta" film attempted to push a valid conspiracy theory, and even this carefully-thought-out fictional one fails to convince (though it starts out as a bit of a neat (albeit dark) idea...)

Perhaps the only conspiracy theories that really work on film involve science-fiction, aliens, or both. Believing that the government has been pow-wowwing with Little Green Men a mile under Roswell since the '60s has its charm -- especially because it's ultimately inconsequential. We'll meet the Little Green Men eventually. These allegations, however, about the Naudet Brothers and about this Flight 93 "cover-up", are extraordinarily consequential, because they call in to question the validity of that which is there, before us (rather than calling in to question the nothingness before us, claiming that it is somethingness instead).

Do you believe there are aliens down in Roswell? Or that Jews planned the 9/11 attacks? Or that the US government is secretly controlled by some sort of super-powerful entity who has full control over every political figure to occupy a Washington office (who is so powerful because of his anonymity, etc.)? What does it take for a conspiracy theory to convince you that you know better than the world's media, governments and intelligence services? I would imagine that it would have to be a theory that includes in detail the process by which the media, governments and people are fooled. And if the theory contains this, don't you suspect that some media source would catch on somewhere and figure it all out (and if the theory does not include these details, what, other than some sort of dark wishful thinking, are you basing your assertions on? Do you want the government to be corrupt (perhaps to validate certain anti-government opinions that you hold -- to validate the fact that you hold anti-government opinions without having to actually validate the opinions themselves?) or do you want to believe that people whose ill luck brought them good fortune via a coincidentally-timed documentary shoot are somehow evil necrophiliacs in cahoots with other evil people (terrorists or the government or whoever) (perhaps, are you jealous of their luck? Is it possible to be lucky in this world without it being some sort of evil conspiracy?)

As you can see, conspiracy theories of this sort irritate me, especially when they are thrown in from left field as some sort of film critique.

-AzS

Anonymous said...

Sorry to seem from left field. I have an intense interest in the facts of S11 and in the insidious Naudet movie in particular, so, I search blogs for mention of Naudet and try to get the word out that their "documentary" is a sham, and worse, a snuff film -- the most ghastly aspect of the whole ghastly plot. Exposing that is my agenda. My name is Ray Ubinger of Durham NC USA and I am the principle author of 911foreknowledge.com.

You are kind to allow non-registered readers to comment. That's why I also pointed to some salient facts about UA93 as well, to keep on topic with your own post.

I would agree that paranoid fantasies about S11 detract from real issues.
http://www.serendipity.li/wot/holmgren01.htm

I submit that until you study the Naudet movie with the level of scrutiny I bring to it, you aren't qualified to say it's not a snuff film. For instance, for their famous 1st Hit footage, they weren't just in the right place at the right time, they were in the PERFECT place at the PERFECT time, IN THE PERFECT WAY:
http://911foreknowledge.com/staged-04.htm
(article by guest contributor Les Raphael)

They also had a SECOND camera running at the instant of the 1st Hit (11 blocks farther south on the SAME STREET), specifically to capture pedestrian REACTION at the INSTANT of the FIRST Hit:
http://911foreknowledge.com/bravenewworld.htm
(my first S11 research discovery)

I didn't exactly say there's "some sort of bizarre cover-up" regarding UA93. I simply point to the fact that there was NO WRECKAGE:
http://thewebfairy.com/911/93
and ask your spirit of honest inquiry to lead you from there.

Even Sandy Dahl, wife of UA93 pilot Jason Dahl, said only last Sunday on Larry King:
"I couldn't believe what I was seeing on television, as a flight attendant, I couldn't believe that there was nothing LEFT, it was just a hole. I was expecting to see airplane parts."

I must say your faith in the existence of a free press is touching. There is plenty of reason to think the MSM were in on S11, starting with the fake video broadcast of the 2nd Hit, where we were shown an apparent airplane vanishing like a ghost into a steel and concrete skyscraper:
http://911hoax.com

You ask:

> Do you believe there are aliens down in Roswell?

No. Did you believe before S11 that solid steel could turn to dust in midair?
http://tinyurl.com/3aaec

> Or that Jews planned the 9/11 attacks?

No, or at least not to a greater degree than their proportion of the world population.

> Or that the US government is secretly controlled by some sort of super-powerful entity who has full control over every political figure to occupy a Washington office (who is so powerful because of his anonymity, etc.)?

No, unless you mean the entity I call the demopublican party.

> What does it take for a conspiracy theory to convince you that you know better than the world's media, governments and intelligence services?

Back up. You think S11 was pulled off by one person acting alone? If not, then you're a conspiracy theorist too.

> Do you want the government to be corrupt (perhaps to validate certain anti-government opinions that you hold -- to validate the fact that you hold anti-government opinions without having to actually validate the opinions themselves?)

No I want the government to be Constitutional. Instead I can't even get them to count my vote.
http://governyourself.com

> or do you want to believe that people whose ill luck brought them good fortune via a coincidentally-timed documentary shoot are somehow evil necrophiliacs in cahoots with other evil people (terrorists or the government or whoever)

I say one elaborate fraud beats a 63-part miracle, statistically speaking.
http://911foreknowledge.com/staged.htm

If 63 coincidences aren't enough to make YOU suspicious, how many WOULD be? 64? 65? 165? 1,000,065? Please say.

> (perhaps, are you jealous of their luck? Is it possible to be lucky in this world without it being some sort of evil conspiracy?)

Luck like the same person winning the lottery three weeks in a row? I mean where do you draw the line? There were THREE Naudet/FDNY cameras running at the instant of the FIRST Hit:

the famous one of the impact

the pedestrian reaction shot, linked as "bravenewworld" above

the "Pavel Hlava" footage
http://thewebfairy.com/911/pavel


Thanks for listening and for making this forum available. I'm here to engage serious questions and though I think you are very naive I appreciate your honest engagement on the issues I raise.

To keep it from sprawling off topic maybe you could just explain your idea of why there was no wreckage at the alleged UA93 crash site.


Respectfully,

Ray Ubinger
Durham NC USA
http://911foreknowledge.com
Naudet Brothers: Accessories to Mass Murder

Gerard said...

Ray is correct.

Sept 11 was entirely planned and carried out by the USG and its agencies.

There is a fundamental flaw at the basis of the criticims made towards Ray's accusation.

If there were simply no evidence available for who carried out the attacks and how, and what really happened, then it would be reasonable to speculate on the basis of one's pre-existing world view.

However that's not the situation.
There is a mountain of irrefutable proof that it was an inside job.

http://members.iinet.net.au/~holmgren/manufactured.html

If that evidence forces a conclusion which is wildly inconsistent with one's view of how the world works, then its time to modify that view.

Lets analogize this to a sitaution of someone on trial for allegedly murdering his wife.

Supposing that one had a pre-existing view of the defendent as non violent, trustworthy, a devoted husband, mentally sound etc, etc, then the charge would be wildly inconsistent with one's pre-existing view. And so if the charge was merely speculative musing based on some conflicting view of the individual, one would be entitled to dismiss it.

But supposing that solid evidence of guilt was brought before the court ? One could not refute this evidence by simply saying "He's such a nice guy. I can't believe he would do this."

This is simply denial. This puts one into the situation where one presupposes facts which will fit one's world view and refuses to even look at anything which might refute those imagined facts.

A properly thinking and aware person forms their fundamental views as a result of facts and is prepared to modify those views when facts demand.

The criticism of Ray's post was based on blind faith - that Govt and media are telling the truth because they tell us they are.

What I've learned about Sept 11 has changed my view of how the world works. I could specifically answer all of the speculative musings criticising Ray's post, but if I did so here, without the facts to back up those answers it would just become a "yes it is - no it isn't" type argument, which doesn't go anywhere.

What I will say is that I have meticulously researched the events of Sept 11, and have also created a compilation of meticulous research by others.

http://members.iinet.net.au/~holmgren/truth.html

http://members.iinet.net.au/~holmgren/S11articles.html

There is no hearsay, no speculation, no ideoligal ranting.

Just the facts.

We use only official Govt websites and datbases, verifiable mainstream media reports with full checkable sourcing, photographs and videos commonly accepted in the public domain, the recorded statements of USG officials, and universally accepted laws of science.

There is such a thing as proof and you will find it at the above links.

Sept 11 was 100% inside job.

Gerard said...

Correcting broken link.

For some reason, the link in my previous post which ends with te word "manufactured" left off the html at the end, even though I typed it. So that link wont open if clicked on.

You could type it in and add the .html to it.

If it doesn't work this time, you'll need to type the address.

But I'll try again to hyperlink it.

http://members.iinet.net.au/~holmgren/manufactured.html

AzS said...

All I know is that I've been told that there was a plane operated by United, UA93, that crashed in Pennsylvania. With any piece of information I receive, I have two choices: Believe it as true until proven otherwise, or believe it as fals until proven otherwise. Honestly, I make that choice more out of convenience than anything else. If it's easy to believe, I'll believe it. If it's difficult to believe, I won't. As to why there "wasn't any wreckage", my response is, "sure, there was".

Is this narrow-minded of me? Probably is. Do I mind? Not at all.

But you did make an interesting point about conspiracies that I think is almost-but-not-quite right:

"You think S11 was pulled off by one person acting alone? If not, then you're a conspiracy theorist too."

We're defining "conspiracy" differently.

Working together to acheive something is not conspiring.

Even working together to acheive something criminal is not conspiring (in the sense of "being involved in a conspiracy").

Conspiracy involves at least one person or group providing secret-but-active support to another person or group which is doing things openly.

So, if Al Quaeda is the only player in the 9/11 attacks, then it's not a conspiracy. If Al Quaeda had support from the Saudis (who, on the face of it, are supposedly allied), then it would be a conspiracy. It's more delicate than just 'more than one person collaborating criminally'.

-AzS

Anonymous said...

AzS writes:

> As to why there "wasn't any wreckage", my response is, "sure, there was".

All I see is a smoking black plane-shaped HOLE in the ground:
http://thewebfairy.com/911/93

Where do you see wreckage?? I wear glasses, but I just got my prescription updated a couple months ago.


Also where do you get your definition of Conspiracy? Dictionary.com calls it simply "an agreement between two or more persons to commit a crime or accomplish a legal purpose through illegal action." Nothing about one of them acting openly and another acting secretly.


Ray Ubinger
http://911foreknowledge.com
Rogue infiltrated elements of FDNY were in on it!