Posted by: jadanzzy | September 11, 2008

Waiting for a happy ending…

This past sunday, after a wonderful time of worshiping with my community, I came home with a desire to relax. So I turned on the TV and decided to inundate myself with the banality of modern media. Soon enough, my surfing took me to the first scene of Paul Greengrass’ (director of the last two Bourne movies) docudrama United 93. At that moment, I went through an internal struggle. I didn’t want to subject myself to emotional stress and, in a sense, “relive” the moment again where I felt really confused and horrified. If I was going to watch the movie, I’d have to live into a dramatized “reality” of being in United Airline flight 93.

What initially held me captive for the first few scenes was Greengrass’ directorial skills and cinematographic eye. I thought it was just really well made. Soon enough, I was slowly being swept in by the slow and steady climb of tension, anxiety, ignorance, negligence, fear, panic, and hatred that would encapsulate the film. I committed.

It’s amazing how a film can pull out the memories and thoughts that you experienced in the past with such intensity. I do remember exactly what happened that Tuesday morning. A student came into our theater class and informed us that the school had shut down and that everyone was to return to their dorm or place of residence. Of course at this point, I’m a bit confused–even more so when I saw the mass of students walking outside in a barely-audible hum of conversation. Back in my dorm, I turned on CNN, having gathered enough info on my way back that some major tragedy had occurred.  Lo and behold, the horrid scene, replayed over and over. My friends and roommates coming in, eyes glued with me. Tears, shock, and phone calls. After just a bit, United 93 had crashed about an hour and half from Pittsburgh. People kept calling us to see if we were ok because they kept hearing “Pittsburgh” in the news. Of course it was hard for the call even to go through. I remember my cousin James calling me, sounding panicked and worried: “Dan! Are you okay??” Shanksville is 80 miles away. Reason flew out the window that day.

A few days later, my roommate’s girlfriend at the time called him in a state of panic. She was in Manhattan for school and was notified that the area she was in at the moment of the call received bomb threats. She was crying in fear as she ran as fast as she could away from the area. These types of incidents went on for a little while longer. And so the War on Terror began.

What most drew me into United 93 was the portrayal of the suicide hijackers. They were young, and thus, deathly afraid. They panicked, seeing the passenger revolt that was about to take place to defend the plane. Their constant prayers to Allah earnest and desperate. I found it fascinating how everything they did was prefixed with a bleeding “Allahu Akbar!!” I felt no anger for them in particular. By the end of the film my anger was targeted towards radical and fundamentalism forms of religion and towards the incompetence of the U.S. government—the video capture of George W. Bush sitting in that kindergarten class after being notified…

Here were are in 2008—election year. The campaigns will use this day for their political gain. The people will remember for a little bit, and then go back to wonder what they’ll eat for dinner. And we won’t write about this again until Sept 11, 2009.

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