Last night, flipping through the 300 channels (301 on days I unblock CBS), I ran across the beginning of “Flight 93” on A & E. At first, I cringed. I didn’t know what to expect.
In previous weeks, I’d heard that a TV network was producing a movie about the plane that was taken down in a Pennsylvania field on 9/11, and wondered at the time how Hollywood would manage to screw up the story, add bias, subtract fact, etc.
It was nice to see that none of that happened. The film did something that’s a rarity: stuck to the facts as they are known.
There were no “Steven Seagal” type characters among the passengers on the plane. They were ordinary people in a horrible situation who acted heroically.
Much of the movie revolves around phone calls from the passengers to family members and others on the ground, and tower communications with Flight 93, and other planes in the area. News eventually reaches the passengers, slowly, that terrorists have struck the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon.
Probably what the film most effectively deals with is remembering that the passengers were completely unaware of the entirety of the situation. There were no “America’s under attack, boys… let’s get ’em!” moments that, as a director or producer, may have been incredibly tempting to toss in.
Conversely, the hijackers weren’t humanized, as may have also been incredibly tempting for a director or producer in the PC universe that is the moviemaking industry. There were no explanations of the hijackers’ “cause”, because, essentially, the murder taking place was their cause, and the filmmakers were bright enough, and intellectually honest enough, to avoid redundancy.
Obviously, some of the dialog between those in the plane had to be assumed, but otherwise the movie made no logical leaps or assumptions, culminating with the ultimate crash of the plane in a Pennsylvania field.
I’m not big on movie reviews, but I do suggest you see it for yourself to get an idea of how refreshing a historically based movie can be when it sticks to the facts, and, when there are gaps in those facts, it leaves them open and untouched, to be filled in by the viewers.
We know the ending, and yet the story manages to be gripping, mournful, enraging, and yet motivational and inspiring. It’s a film of many emotions, and it works on several levels.
Watch the movie if you can. Not too far into it, you’ll realize that it’s also a movie about you. In America, we all played a part. In many ways, it’s our story, and it’s refreshing to see that it was so well done and is a terrific reminder to never, ever forget.
Here’s the schedule for “Flight 93” on A & E:
Tuesday, Jan. 31 — 10 p.m.
Wednesday, Feb. 1 — 2 a.m., 9 p.m.
Thursday, Feb. 2 — 1 a.m.
Saturday, Feb. 4 — 12 noon
Addendum: You can read a less positive review by the Washington Post television reviewer/reporter Tom Shales. In “From tragedy to tripe, nonstop“, Shales wrote that the movie “Flight 93” was a “lust to make a buck”. As if Tom wrote his review of that lust to make a buck for free.