Thursday, 2 September 2010

Bearing Witness

Original Post - Saturday, June 10, 2006

United 93 - Paul Greengrass

Last night I spent a rare enough night in the cinema when I went to see Paul Greengrass' United 93 which is a powerful addition to his witness films where powerful socially emotive moments which have led to huge splits in society are reSEEN and play out as human rather than schematic dramas. The Murder of Stephen Lawrence, Bloody Sunday and now United 93 concentrate on events that led to the justification of riots, murder and even war.

In a similar way to Alan Clarkes' powerful Elephant (a recreation of sectarian murders in Northern Ireland which inspired Gus van Sants' film of the same name) we see that the killing of a human being is the only real blasphemy - against any religion and against our common humanity.

Greengrass draws us into the details of the characters everyday lives - we see and hear the common transactions of the working day and the film displays true humanity in its' curiosity. Fuel being loaded into a jet, breakfast orders being taken and other lovingly observed moments create a sense that this is the REAL world that we are watching.

And as the tension rises and we head towards the inevitable conclusion we empathise with all the characters hijackers, hijacked and ground staff and as the plane dips dramatically and heads for the ground I was momentarily cought up by the realistion that sitting on the central aisle in a cinema is very like sitting in a plane.

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