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April 7, 2006

Remembering United 93

Slate's discussion of the United 93 trailer raises some interesting points. I've already discussed the trailer at some length, but their discussion clarifies some questions I still want to think about, specifically in terms of what it means to produce a fictionalization of one major aspect of 9/11.

To frame the discussion, Meghan O'Rourke asks, "Should the trailer come with a short, typed notice announcing what it is, so people can look away (and plug their ears if they like)? Or is it really that a plurality of Americans simply aren't ready for a fictionalization of 9/11?" I think the latter question is probably the hardest to answer, in part because I'm not sure whether it's an issue of being "ready" as much as it is a question of a conflict over how the day's events should be narrated or remembered. 9/11 still has an uneasy place in our cultural memory, and turning it into a story about "the day we faced fear," to quote the trailer, may have the effect of limiting how the day's events are remembered. In this sense, I think I'm relatively close to the position expressed by Michael Agger, who questions the film's "faux authenticity," the use of "technical prowess" to re-create history. And while I didn't address this point in my previous entry, it does seem significant, as O'Rourke points out, that the first two fictionalizations have focused on United flight 93, including the A&E movie I mentioned earlier.

Like the Slate critics, I certainly don't want to judge the film until I've seen it, but the trailer itself raises a number of significant questions about what it means to promote a film about a recent national trauma, particularly one that continues to elude incorporation into larger historical narratives.

Posted by chuck at April 7, 2006 12:35 PM

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