“Remember me, O my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people.” (Nehemiah 5:19)
Last night I watched the movie “United 93” twice on DVD, a brilliant movie which occurs almost in real time on September 11, 2001, focusing on the heroic acts yet tragic ending of the passengers of United 93. It felt like watching “The Passion Of Christ”. In both movies, you know what’s going to happen, but the details and the process of the story still haunts you at every step, and it took me a while to ease the intensity after watching it. The brilliance of the movie is that because it was shot with no-name actors, and also includes air traffic controllers who were actually there on 9/11, you don’t feel like you’re seeing people acting — you feel as if you were right there on that plane.
But then the DVD also included an excellent documentary of how they actually obtained the deceased passengers’ families’ permission to make this film. Many of the actors went and spent time with the families of 9/11 as they recounted the stories of their deceased loved ones. It was an eye-opening experience. One mother said that her daughters remains were found in a dozen separate places at the crash site, and so she had her cremeated and distributed her remains to all her relatives, even wearing her ashes in a pendant, so she can be near her always. Another mother visited her deceased daughter’s room every day since 9/11, saying good morning every morning and saying good night every good night. Still another family decided to move to a small town where nobody knows them so they won’t always be seen as victims.
Because of this, the actors were chosen to look like the 40 actual passengers on United 93, and they even studied the deceased to learn their mannerisms. When I watched the movie again, I appreciated the detail to which the actors and filmmakers went to in order to make this movie not just a movie, but a living memorial of the people and events of 9/11.
I wish all historical drama movies are like this.