United 93 (movie)

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United 93
Directed byPaul Greengrass
Screenplay byPaul Greengrass
Based on9/11 Commission Report
by the 9/11 Commission
Produced byPaul Greengrass
Tim Bevan
Eric Fellner
Lloyd Levin
StarringChristian Clemenson
Cheyenne Jackson
David Alan Basche
Peter Hermann
Daniel Sauli
Trish Gates
Corey Johnson
Richard Bekins
Michael J. Reynolds
Khalid Abdalla
CinematographyBarry Ackroyd
Edited byClare Douglas
Richard Pearson
Christopher Rouse
Music byJohn Powell
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
(United States)
United International Pictures (United Kingdom)
Mars Distribution (France)
Release date
  • April 28, 2006 (2006-04-28)
Running time
110 minutes[1]
CountriesUnited States
United Kingdom
Arabic (diegetic)
Budget$15 million[2]
Box office$76.3 million[2]

United 93 is a 2006 biographical drama-thriller movie written, co-produced and directed by Paul Greengrass. It is about the events aboard United Airlines Flight 93,[3] which was hijacked during the September 11 attacks.

The movie was made with the help of many of the passengers' families,[4] though not all agreed to participate.[5]

Plot[change | change source]

In a hotel room in Newark, New Jersey at dawn where Ziad Jarrah is seen reading and praying with a Quran. His roommate, Ahmed al-Haznawi tells him the time has come to begin their attack. The latter is then seen shaving. In another hotel in Newark Saeed al-Ghamdi and Ahmed al-Nami are seen praying. The four men then leave their respective hotels and meet each other at Newark Liberty International Airport. They all successfully get past security and wait at a gate with other passengers to board Flight 93, bound for San Francisco. Nami and Ghamdi enter the plane first, followed by al-Haznawi and finally Jarrah, who makes a final phone call to his girlfriend. The plane is delayed due to heavy traffic but eventually takes off. At this time Flight 11 has been hijacked by Mohamed Atta and his fellow hijackers. Atta accidentally informs the air traffic controllers about this.

Air traffic controllers monitoring all current flights determine that American Airlines Flight 11, a Boeing 767 from Boston's Logan International Airport has taken a turn toward New York City. Shortly after, Flight 11 crashes into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, although the air traffic controllers do not immediately realize what has happened. About 20 minutes earlier, a tape recording was made of Mohamed Atta's line "We have some planes, just stay quiet and you'll be okay. We are returning to the airport."

Meanwhile, United Airlines Flight 175, another Boeing 767, also from Boston, is also hijacked and begins to descend and turn toward New York City as well. Air traffic controllers then realize they are dealing with multiple hijackings. American Airlines Flight 77, a Boeing 757 is also hijacked. The air traffic controllers and Air Force watch as Flight 175 crashes into the South Tower of the World Trade Center on live television, as reported by CNN.

Meanwhile, on Flight 93, the passengers are served their breakfast an impatient Ahmed al-Nami demands to know from Jarrah why they are not yet hijacking. Jarrah insists the time is not right and orders him to go back to his seat. Soon after, al-Haznawi enters a toilet, where he prepares an artificial bomb. After he returns to his seat, al-Ghamdi makes the first move by grabbing head flight attendant Debbie Welsh, and al-Haznawi shows the "bomb", causing mass panic among the passengers. Both al-Ghamdi and al-Nami attack some of the passengers, forcing the others to retreat to the back of the plane. Jarrah then orders Debbie to let them into the cockpit. At this point co-pilot, Lee Homer is attacked and Jarrah takes over the controls while captain Jason Dahl is attacked.

Flight 93 turns towards D.C. while FAA National Operations Manager Ben Sliney decides to shut down all airspace in the United States and ground every flight. By this time, Flight 77 has crashed into the Pentagon.

The passengers and crew make calls to their families and tell them their plane is hijacked. After learning both the World Trade Center and Pentagon were destroyed by three other planes, as well as seeing the bodies of Debbie Welsh and the pilots, the passengers believe that their plane will also crash, and decide to retake the plane, with a passenger claiming he has had experience flying planes. The passengers and crew make weapons of anything they come across and wait for the perfect moment to save the plane. They soon overpower al-Haznawi and despite his efforts to keep them at bay al-Nami is soon also killed by strangulation. Using a food cart, the male passengers break down the cockpit door, but knowing their intentions, Jarrah puts the plane into a nosedive, accepting that his bid to destroy the Capitol has failed. The passengers frantically try to gain control of the aircraft but the plane is turned upside down, creating strong G-forces, and as the passengers try to reach the yoke, the aircraft crashes, killing all those on board.

The roles of one of the flight attendants, the two pilots, and many other airline personnel were filled by actual airline employees.[6]

Production[change | change source]

During production, the actors playing the crew and the passengers of the flight were put in separate hotels from the actors portraying the hijackers, even eating their meals separately, ostensibly to create an air of antagonism in the film between the two groups. The set itself was built so that it moved the way the actual flight did. During the filming, many of the actors actually got hurt, and the blood visible on their faces during the revolting scene is authentic and not fake.[7]

Adams saying that the memory of her husband's death was still too raw.[5] Sunday Times critic Cosmo Landesman mused, "Surely one of the passengers didn't phone home to point out that there was a cowardly German on board who wanted to give in?"[8] Critic John Harris suggested in a Guardian blog, "there will surely be all kinds of cries about old European surrender monkeys, the United States' contrasting backbone etc."[9]

Release[change | change source]

United 93 premiered on April 26, 2006, at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City.[10] Several family members of the passengers aboard the flight attended the premiere to show their support.

The movie opened in North America on April 28, 2006, to strong positive reviews.[11] The total money made from United 93 was $31.4 million in the United States, and $76.3 million worldwide.[2][12]

The movie also received two Academy Award nominations, including Best Director for Greengrass.

References[change | change source]

  1. "UNITED 93 (15)". United International Pictures. British Board of Film Classification. May 11, 2006. Retrieved September 29, 2013.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "United 93 (2006)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. July 6, 2006. Retrieved June 10, 2013.
  3. Barra, Allen. "Historical Film: It's Time to See a Movie We Couldn't Bear to Go To"[permanent dead link]. American Heritage, November/December 2006.
  4. Heath, Iver (January 1, 2006). "Four Years On, a Cabin's-Eye View of 9/11". The New York Times.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Brooks, Xan (June 7, 2006). "United 93 'surrender monkey' defends role in film". The Guardian.
  6. http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1181589,00.html
  7. Nancy Grace (April 28, 2006). "Families of 9/11 Victims Praise 'United 93'". CNN. Retrieved June 21, 2021.
  8. "A terrifying flight back in time" June 4, 2006 The Times
  9. Skating on thin air May 25, 2006, http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk accessed June 11, 2006
  10. (March 29, 2006). "September 11 plane drama to open NY film festival"[permanent dead link]. Reuters article.
  11. (April 10, 20??). "A Dark Day Revisited". Newsweek.
  12. Boorstin, Julia (January 8, 2006). "MSNBC". NBC News. Retrieved June 10, 2013.