The Reddess and I saw United 93 this afternoon. This isn't a movie review, but it is incredibly well done and, literally, gutwrenching. At the end of the film, the theater was in silence, save the sound of the audience crying.
I came home and read this column(subscription required by David Thomson in the Sunday New York Times.
It's not a model of clarity and is not well written, but it concludes with the following:
The really difficult film to make or offer in America will be the one that says, no, the world did not alter its nature on 9/11, even if the worst politicians used that event to switch their reality. But on 9/11, we faced the first need to ask ourselves how other people - evil, alien, insane - could be so brave. The history of terrorism - and it includes the indepencence of this country - is that in the end, you have to understand the grievance of the aggrieved, whether you agree with it or not. That film has still to come.
There is so much that is wrong with that statement, that I will start with the one thing that is true. The world didn't change on 9/11. Evil existed before that awful day as well as the need to resist it.
So we certainly did have to ask how "other people" could be "so brave." Japanese kamikaze pilots were brave. Hitler was inexpressably evil, but he was brave. Unfortunately, courage in the service of evil is not new.
United 93 reflects the courage of the hijackers. What it does not do is try to portray their grievance, other than to unashamedly root it in Islam.
Elsewhere in the column, Thomson juxtaposes patriotism and art, stating that the latter understands that people "have their reasons" for committing atrocious acts.
Yes, people do. But sometimes those reasons are evil. Sometimes they do not deserve a sympathetic rendering. Does Thomson think that Mississippi Burning was less than it could be because it didn't explore the "reasons" that white southerners had for wanting a segregated society?
We understand the "grievances" that led to 9/11. It was a belief, on the part of some Muslims encouraged by oil despots in Saudi Arabia, that Islam should rule the earth, or at least the middle eastern part of it.
I understand. And the response of the passengers of United 93 - the very first response - was the right one. Fierce resistance.