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ISSUE 119 VOL 18 PUBLISHED 4/28/2006

Film comes too soon: "United 93" treats trauma cavalierly

By Alyssa Kleven
Contributing Writer

Friday, April 28, 2006

The week following Sept. 11 was full of one thing: “Glitter.” And I'm not talking about the kind that you glued to construction paper in the third grade.

The movie that scored the most dollars at the box office the week following Sept. 11 was a movie bashed by critics that starred Mariah Carey. It happened to be the only movie that audiences could bring themselves to go see.

So, less than five years later, are we ready to trek to our local cineplex to watch on the big screen what we could only mentally escape by watching something that would have otherwise gone down in history with flim flops like “Gigli?”

If our choice in movies following the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon is any indication, then the answer is, probably not. I'm sorry if you're a fan of “Glitter,” but if it had been released in July 2001, its numbers at the box office would have been completely different. Moreover, we would not even remember the movie, since it would have passed by so fast that anyone who blinked would have missed it.

However, Hollywood has a tradition of transposing the historical to film in a way that gives most Americans an education on simple events that would otherwise be forgotten by the general populace.

If not for Leonardo DiCaprio, would we remember that the “Titanic” crashed into an iceberg on April 14, 1912?

But when it comes to historical films, much of the audience doesn't have a very good recollection of the events that took place, because they were very young, or not even born.

However, in the case of the forthcoming “United 93,” when the event hasn't even had its five year anniversary, releasing a film seems a bit rushed. Almost as rushed as the made-for-TV movie “The Amy Fisher Story.”

But when it comes to the recreation of real events, those who lived them are often hesitant to travel to the cinema. At the release of “Saving Private Ryan,” many Normandy veterans were traumatized by the realistic D-day opening scene. Even though many films had been made about World War II, it is when a film is so realistic that it can emotionally injure its audience.

The director of “United 93,” Paul Greengrass, also directed “Bloody Sunday” (2002), which was about the massacre of civil rights protesters in Northern Ireland on Jan. 30, 1972. Greengrass does not have a lot of directing credits to his name, but his interest in historical film is evident from “Bloody Sunday,” and perhaps gives us a better understanding to his interest for creating this film.

His edgy directing qualities will no doubt capture the attention of the American people as “United 93” is released this weekend, but will we be ready for it?

Traveling through the airport has become more efficient since the days following Sept. 11, but people are still singled out in airports based on how they look, and the American prejudice against “Arab” immigrants and “Arab” nations is still present.

It seems like it is too soon to digest a film about something still ingrained in the consciousness of every American who turned on a television or radio that morning.

If we can remember the pain of that day, which affected everyone in our country and around the world, we're probably not ready to be reminded of or to feel that pain all over again. This is bigger than “The Amy Fisher Story.” Shouldn't we treat it with more respect?

Staff Writer Alyssa Kleven is a junior from Albany, Ore. She majors in English with a concentration in media studies.

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