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May 5, 2006

Are We Ready For This?

Karen Lewis

This is a question that has been asked frequently around the country as a new movie entitled "United 93" opened in theaters last week. The movie re-enacts the hijacking of the 9-11 flight that was headed for the U.S. Capital when passengers overwhelmed the terrorists and forced the plane to crash.

British director Paul Greengras, drew on different sources, including the 9/11 Commission Report, and reports from family members of the crew and passengers who shared last minute phone conversations. With their approval and support, he made this film, the first to depict events of that dreadful day.

Variety Magazine indicated that pre-opening market research identified a high percentage of respondents who were not interested in seeing the movie. Are Americans not ready to deal with this event emotionally; or do we fear that this is a Hollywood exploitation of a wound that remains all too painful?

Whatever the motivation for this early indicator of the public's lack of receptivity to the film,I disagree with it. This movie is a "must see!"

Most of it is devoted to the period between takeoff and the excruciating moments before the plane crashed in Pennsylvania. Interspersed with the events of the flight are scenes from air traffic control towers where the reactions quickly moved from confusion to panic.

If there is any doubt that we were totally unprepared for the events of that tragic day, the dialogue and frustration of the various control tower personnel reinforces our lack of preparedness.

My heart pounded throughout this movie in anticipation of the inevitable. I do believe that "United 93" may very well be the most emotionally draining movie I've ever viewed. This film personalized the passengers and the crew for me. Having developed a bond with them, but knowing their fate, I was afraid to watch but felt obligated to witness their fears and pain.

While there was certainly some fiction mixed in with fact, this film was very tasteful and well-done. I appreciated that and I am sure that the families of the victims do as well.

Normally, one does not give away the ending. Unfortunately, we all know it before we bought our ticket.

The film closes with a tribute to those who lost their lives on this tragic day in history. The memories of 9-11 - and the tribute owed to the thousands who perished that day - are the most important reasons why this film is a must-see.

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