Screened as part of NZIFF 2006
United 93 is a harrowing reenactment, in real time, of what might have happened on the one aeroplane that didn't fulfil the terrorists' intended goals on September 11, 2001. As in his earlier Bloody Sunday, British director Paul Greengrass employs the documentary style to portray a crucial, historically loaded violent event in an uncannily authoritative, realistic manner. The film cuts with increasing frequency from events aboard the plane to the helplessness of air traffic control, and the failure of the air defense chain-of-command. It’s remarkably unjudgemental, giving weight to the experience of every individual caught up in the horror, and refusing to cast events – as so many others have – in manipulative terms of good and evil, heroism and cowardice.
"Its moral stance is that of a somber, uncompromising anti-spectacle. Greengrass’ film is many other things besides: a cathartic act of bearing witness, an experiment in therapeutic reenactment, an anti-procedural, a meditation on the agonizing limits of communication – and a memorial." — Gavin Smith, Film Comment