United 93

Over at Slate, there’s an interesting debate about the trailer of Paul Greengrass’s upcoming United 93, a fictionalized, real-time account of the flight that was headed to the White House on September 11, 2001. I saw the trailer when I saw Inside Man last week, and the experience was nerve-rattling, but it was especially jarring that, immediately after, we flashed to a preview of a glossy, dim-looking romantic comedy starring Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn. I didn’t need a pre-preview warning telling me that United 93 would have footage of the World Trade Center getting hit, but I would’ve liked a brief rest after the trailer. In any case, art is one of the ways–perhaps the best way–that we absorb and process trauma, and I’m not damning Greengrass for making the movie. The marketing might be a little crass, but the movie has to be marketed, after all, and I thought the trailer was done sensitively and it draws you into the movie. The fact that it’s unsettling is the point; the day was one of the most unsettling in American history–how else should Greengrass portray it?

I may not see it, but this has got nothing to do with politics or moral indignation. His aesthetic favors ultra-jittery camerawork, non-intuitive shot angles, and fast, jarring edits, and so I get nauseous when watching his stuff–even on TV, I couldn’t watch The Bourne Supremacy without rubbing my temples continuously. In any case, check out the conversation.

About Walter Biggins

Walter Biggins is a writer based in Athens, GA. His work has been published in RogerEbert.com, Bookslut, The Comics Journal, Salon, The Baseball Chronicle, Jackson Free Press, and Valley Voices: A Literary Review. Follow him on Twitter (@walter_biggins), and check out his bimonthly newsletter (https://tinyletter.com/Walter_Biggins).
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