Year Released: 2006
Directed by: Paul Greengrass
Starring: Ben Sliney, David Alan Basche, Christian Clemenson, Trish Gates, Cheyenne Jackson
(R, 90 min.)
"Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear." Mark Twain
Director Paul Greengrass strikes just the right note in United 93 by refusing to pander to either emotions or politics. The audience feels anew that loss of innocence -- fresh, shocking, and only amplified by our ironic knowledge of its ultimate tragic end on that fateful day in September.
Since most of us know all too well the details of that horrendous event, as well as the days of chaos, confusion, and now contention that have followed, the only way for a film like this to make itself heard is through style. It is how Greengrass tells the story, rather than the story itself that makes United 93 a superior film.
The opening concentrates on the terrorists making their final preparations for their suicide mission. They say their final prayers, perform their cleansing rites, and have that determined/frightened look common to most young men going off to war -- for that is how they see their mission, and in the camera’s eye, their fanatical religious zeal is taken at face value.
As in Munich these four terrorists are personalized even more so than the victims of their bloody deeds. For instance, the final, “I love you” phone message of the pilot terrorist is given more screen time than frantic calls made from doomed flight 93 passengers. The camera dotes on his lean, ascetic face and hints at his muted misgivings with an intimacy it eschews for the passengers.
On the other hand, the passengers are presented with the crisp detachment and the limited exposure most of us experience during our own flights. And after a slew of hokey airplane films starting in the sixties, such a disciplined approach is a welcome relief. No hackneyed, warmed over assortment of the predictable stereotypes. Even the heroics are downplayed.
Chit chat between passengers is not along the lines of those clichéd personal revelations reserved for “airplane movies," but the more real clipped conversation between tired travelers concentrating of getting a few winks or losing themselves in the latest paperback. The famous “Let’s roll,” which became a rally cry for payback, is not in italics but in lower case, muted and desperate. Even the role of Todd Beamer (David Alan Basche) is downplayed, with Thomas Burnett (Christian Clemenson) taking the lead role in the improvised plan to take over the ship.
Grenngrass captures the tension and awakening to reality with hand held camera shots, little known actors, and a few real airplane personnel playing their parts. For instance, stewardess Sandra Bradshaw is played by Trish Gates, a former United employee. And Federal Aviation Administration operations manager Ben Sliney plays himself, a poor sucker experiencing his first day in this position after being promoted. The calls of congratulations that greet him as he enters the chaotic control room are stewed in irony for the audience, as is the film as a whole.
Flight 93 also admirably captures the disbelief and chaos that surrounds the various agencies dealing with the crisis. “A hijacking!” an air traffic controller almost laughs. “We haven’t had one of those for forty years.” The military, perhaps treated a bit unfairly here, is understaffed due to a NORAD exercise off the coast, and is rather ham fisted in its reaction, at least two or three steps behind the civilian world in their responses and assessment of the crisis. There is a muted slam at the President and VP as the military vainly struggles to reach them in order to determine proper rules of engagement in downing what they now suspect is another suicide plane. Perhaps the most telling aspect of the total confusion is the fact that both agencies are clearly getting quite a bit of their information from CNN as well as through their bureaucratic channels.
Like the event itself, Flight 93 will evoke whatever undercurrents swim in your unconscious, because by refusing to take a point of view, it allows you to have one.
The sleepy passengers begin their five hour-long flight with a nice breakfast -- omelets, sausage and plenty of hot coffee. Let’s hope that this, their last meal, was warm and comforting.
I have searched for an omelet recipe a bit more creative than those warmed over squares confined to plastic and Styrofoam that are the standard fare for air travel; that is if you get any meal at all.
Enjoy yours as you count your blessings, cherish your family and friends, and salute the ordinary men and women who performed such an extraordinary act of courage that infamous day.
Buttered Mushroom Omelet
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 cup bread cubes
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 1 (5 ounce) can chunk chicken, drained and flaked
- 6 eggs
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
- Over medium-low heat melt butter in a large saucepan. Add bread cubes and toss to coat with butter. Stir in carrots, salt, parsley and chicken. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Beat together eggs and milk; stir in cheese. Pour egg mixture over bread mixture and stir briefly to combine. Cook until eggs are set, about 10 to 15 minutes.
Here are a few general tips from LoveToKnow recipes.
Different Ways to Make Omelets
There are several different ways to make the dish that most of us would refer to as an omelet. The French method utilizes a technique that involves jerking the pan in a particular way to form a rolled omelet. Another method calls for blending ingredients into the eggs before pouring the mixture into a pan. A third has the ingredients layered on top of the cooked egg, and is placed briefly under the broiler to heat the toppings and melt any cheese that might be included. Whichever method you select (and especially if you learn to utilize all three), you will be able to make an almost infinite variety of egg dishes.
Omelet Making Tips
Although omelets are fairly simple, they provide many opportunities that will allow you to create something that is really delicious rather than run of the mill. For example, they will taste best if you use fresh eggs, and adding complementary herbs or spices to the egg mixture can provide a significant boost in flavor. Some people choose to add water or milk to the beaten eggs because this, along with vigorous whisking, will produce omelets that are fluffy and light. Finally, it is important to choose toppings that harmonize well.
Almost any combination of ingredients can be used to top or fill an omelet. While there are certain classic combinations such as ham and cheddar or mushrooms and spinach, there are also many opportunities for improvisation. Leftover cooked vegetables, numerous kinds of cheese, and meat or smoked fish can be combined to delightful effect. Take a peek at the recipes below for some ideas.
Remember, while omelets are commonly associated with breakfast, heartier fillings can be used to make them a satisfying lunch or dinner.
Recipe Source: Everyday Kitchen.com