Another, um, notable review of "United 93"

Keith Uhlich at Slant:

…it is nowhere near as strong as the stink of synergy. Certainly this isn’t the first Hollywood production done in by the competing corporate and personal interests that funded it (consider the unspoken implications—both commercial and propagandistic—of the film’s last-minute title change from Flight 93 to United 93), but it is the only one I’ve come across where the families of those onboard gave it their full-on approval. Not all the families, of course. All evidence suggests that the terrorists’ relatives were left entirely out of the creative process, an action which goes a way toward revealing the film’s hagiographic bias…

Apparently Mr. Uhlich must consider Schindler’s List a lamentably biased film because Spielberg doesn’t have the approval of some Nazis.

I can’t imagine what he thinks of The Passion of the Christ. Unfair because Gibson didn’t give Satan a fair hearing?

I’m not saying that “The terrorists were evil and must be discounted.” No. No human being is evil incarnate. Evil is something we do, not something we are. We are made in the image of God, all of us, terrorists included. We have been corrupted by sin, and so we are capable of doing evil. But when someone does evil, we mustn’t pretend it’s something else.

But to say that United 93 is lacking in integrity because the killers would have disapproved… well, we learn a lot about Mr. Uhlich right there.

Why do I suspect he didn’t complain about Fahrenheit 9/11 not having White House approval?

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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” called Through a Screen Darkly, and a four-volume series of fantasy novels called The Auralia Thread, which includes Auralia’s Colors, Cyndere’s Midnight, Raven’s Ladder, and The Ale Boy’s Feast. Jeffrey is a contributing editor for Seattle Pacific University’s Response magazine, and he writes about art, faith, and culture for Image, Filmwell, and his own website, LookingCloser.org. His work has also appeared in Paste, Relevant, Books and Culture, and Christianity Today (where he was a film columnist and critic for almost a decade). He lives in Shoreline, Washington. Visit him on Facebook at facebook.com/jeffreyoverstreethq.

  • ramblingsfromthezoo

    I don’t think that was Uhlich’s point really. It’s sort of a funny remark that does hint at the fact that the movie might have been a bit more interesting–not so much if it literally had the approval of the terrorists–if it had added a certain something in content that would have made the movie at least a bit more complex, emotionally and intellectually affecting, and to contain a firmer more elaborate commentary on the situation than just trying to cash in from feelings and opinions we already had to begin with.

    But i guess this type of simpler movies are valid too.

    I just got to say I am enjoying Uhlich a lot, who I just started paying attention to today, he is insightful and clear. I guess though that for many it is easy to overlook the specifics he is talking about reacting to general ideas that result from his comments. But if you pay attention he is not that definitive in his opinions and he supports well his comments within their intent.

  • Thom

    Is it bad that I have started to assume if Barabara hates a movie…I will either enjoy it or find it a good challenge to my faith?

  • Jeffrey Overstreet

    I agree, Voice of Objective Truth. (How nice to meet such an entity! Where have you been all my life?) There have been so many film versions of this story, it will take something very special to really seem worthwhile.

    And yet, I think it will be worth a look. Haalstrom is a hit-and-miss director. He’s been missing for a while now… I haven’t been deeply moved by anything he’s done since “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?” But I try to remind myself that, given a good script, he’s capable of greatness. We’ll see.

    I guess the real question is, Can Komarnicki mine this lode for screenwriting gold? And can they find a cast who can deliver something inspired?

  • The Voice of Objective Truth

    Well, I was glad you mentioned each of those items… but what I really need is a new t-shirt.

    As for the new version of “A Christmas Carol”, do we need another? Alastair Sim’s version is excellent, as is the Muppet’s version, and Scrooged is fun. The rest are forgettable.

  • jasdye

    my second vote is the kaufman movie.

    *adopting voice of Animal* “T-shirt! T-shirt! T-shirt! T-shirt! T-SHIRT! T-SHIIIIIIIRRRRRRRRRTTT! YAHHHHHH”

  • jack

    Great point. Enjoyed the post.

    Just saw United 93 and was very moved, left speechless. As a movie, it was very well done. Though it’s not for everyone, I didn’t feel it was either too soon or unfair.


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