United 93

June 23, 2006 at 2:40 pm Leave a comment

Via the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity


United 93, the fourth flight to be hijacked on September 11th 2001, seems as iconic as Titanic when you see it captured in Philip Greengrass’s moving feature film.

You want to shout “Don’t get on!” to the poor man who’s running late and just sneaks through check-in with seconds to go. You want to cry “There’s a better way of solving this!” to the hijackers as they sit there in first class, clearly in trepidation, awaiting the time to strike. And you desperately want the brave passengers to subdue their captors and bring the aircraft soaring out of its nosedive towards the safety of a Hollywood ending.

Yet, every time the film plays, of course, the man running late catches his plane with the same few seconds to spare; the hijackers carry through their plan and the passengers fail to re-gain control (though they do, of course, stop the plane reaching its target).

United 93 was delayed in taking off that fateful morning, so by the time it was hijacked, the passengers were receiving reports that the Twin Towers had been struck. Theirs was the first, urgent decision to make in the new, ‘post 9/11’ world – do they sit back and do nothing, or try to intervene? Greengrass believes we’ve been wrestling with this question in the West ever since.

The most moving scenes in this ‘real time’ film come when the passengers, realising the extent of their awful predicament, start to phone their families to say goodbye. In the face of such unexpected trauma, the simplest of phrases takes on the greatest urgency and clarity: ‘I love you.’

We should never take those words for granted, as we remind ourselves, even within the luxurious tranquillity of everyday banality, that love transcends everything, and never fails, as Paul says.

Yet it’s one thing to love your loved ones. It’s another thing entirely to love your enemies too, as Jesus commanded, and to pray for those who still mean us harm.

As we enter the run-up to the anniversary of the London bombings, this beautiful, shocking film celebrates the extraordinary bravery of ordinary people; but it reminds us, too, that the hijackers in the cockpit, and by implication the young men on the tube with the rucksack, are also people – people who God loves, and who we must somehow seek to love as well as our own.

Give me strength.

Brian Draper

additional resources

The film's official website is at united93movie.com.

Christian Adams, a German who was on board, is portrayed controversially as the only passenger wanting to appease the hijackers and 'do nothing'. Read more about the concerns of stereotyping European 'surrender monkeys' in the Guardian – at film.guardian.co.uk. For the Guardian's main review, click here.

Read a batch of global reviews of the film at rottentomatoes.com.

The Forgiveness Project is always worth a second look, when it comes to loving one's enemies – at theforgivenessproject.com.


Entry filed under: Economics, Missions, Personals, Politics, Religion, Society, World.

Aheem…my family…a clarification:-) Hatimaye wapendwa…tiz pay-back tyme!:-)

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