Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Flight 93

Fit of insomnia tonight, found myself flipping channels while meandering between a few writing assignments. On A&E, I see that the next thing on is the September 11 movie, Flight 93, about the hijacked Newark-San Francisco flight--presumably en route to Washington and the Capitol--that crashed in rural Pennsylvania after the passengers revolted against the highjackers.

I'd seen some good reviews, and the movie had come up in conversation with my brothers during our family dinner on Sunday. So I said to myself, "I'll just catch a few minutes."

Forty minutes later, I turned the TV off. It wasn't that the movie was bad--the reviews were dead-on--it was that, even four-plus years later, I could still feel that sinking feeling in my stomach. The same feeling that I had that morning, when I was running late for work, put on NY1 (the local all-news cable channel) to check and see if I needed to put on an overcoat, and found the weather report preempted by footage of the World Trade Center on fire.

The world was so different at that time, that when I saw One and Two World Trade on fire, "plane" wasn't in the top 5 explanations that came rushing into my mind. (To share some embarassment with you--and show how useless my brain can be before my first cup of coffee--one of the thoughts that popped into my head before "plane" was actually "meteor." For a moment, I looked at those assymetrical fires and thought "the trajectory is all wrong for a meteor to have hit both buildings.")

Back to the TV movie, Flight 93 is told in an un-exploitative, matter-of-fact way that seems ripped right out of the 9/11 Commission Report. Despite the lateness of the hour, the queasy feeling I got when they replayed the footage of the second plane hitting its target, I was riveted by the story--and would still be watching right now, if A&E hadn't let me off the hook with a commercial break a little bit after the half hour mark (the movie was being presented with limited commercials). When I shut off the television, my hand was shaking--the segment before the commercial break showed the highjackers storming the cockpit--and I was agitated. I still am.

I'm glad for that commercial break. I really want to see that movie, but now is not the time (literally--the film doesn't end until 2:45AM). Still, I wonder when I'll be ready to see something like this, even in TV movie reenactment. I sure wasn't ready the first time around.

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