MoonDawg's Den: A testament to the human spirit

MoonDawg's Den

Monday, May 01, 2006

A testament to the human spirit

I went and saw United 93 over the weekend as planned. It was the most harrowing movie-going experience I've ever had; I could hardly bear to watch the final 20 minutes. Several people cried, but what I felt was exhaustion at the movie's end. The film makes you relive that sunny morning in September five years ago, and relive it in the manner that most of us experienced it: watching an airliner hurtle into the south tower of the World Trade Center next to the already-burning north tower, and explode into an orange ball of flame over a CNN "Breaking News" graphic.

The shock, disbelief, and outrage I felt that day came flooding back as I watched United 93. It transported me from a comfortable movie theater to the office conference room where myself and others watched the events of 9/11 unfold on a large projection screen television. The hand-over-mouth horror expressed by the actors in the movie was the same as that expressed by my co-workers that awful morning. Even the funereal silence of the audience exiting the theater reminded me of the stunned silence which enveloped the conference room much of that day.

But this movie is mainly about the people on UA Flight 93 - normal, regular people like you or I, who found themselves in an extraordinary situation. A reviewer at Amazon summed up the movie brilliantly:

It was Thermopylae. It was the Alamo. It was like nothing that has happened before in human history.

Much of the power of United 93 is the knowledge that while people cannot realistically imagine themselves with the Spartans at Thermopylae or the Texans at the Alamo, just about everyone has flown in an air liner. Everyone seeing this film can imagine themselves among those brave but doomed passengers, fighting with the courage of desperation for the right to get home alive.

Though one knows what must happen in the film, one to the very last finds oneself praying for a different outcome, one in which the passengers seized back the plane and somehow flew it to safety at some nearby air field. But the film is real life, not Hollywood.

Every human being should see this film. It is a testament to the human spirit, of an indomitable desire, even in the face of death, to not go quietly into that good night.


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