Perhaps moviegoers weren’t ready for the critically acclaimed, but box office disappointment, “United 93.” Universal Home Entertainment is releasing a United 93 2-Disc Limited Edition DVD that includes the theatrical feature film and two powerful documentary bonus features, “United 93: The Families and the Film” and “Chasing Planes: Witnesses to 9/11, ” on September 5, 2006, just days before the fifth anniversary of 9/11. United 93 tells the courageous story of the heroic crew members and passengers who came together and prevented terrorists from carrying out their plans for the fourth hijacked plane on September 11, 2001. Forty people who sat down as strangers found the courage to stand up as one as on-ground civilian and military teams scrambled to make sense of the unfolding events.
I was one of those who skipped the theatrical release, opting instead for a private in-home viewing. For several days I put off watching the movie, worried that I wouldn’t be prepared for the expected emotional impact; that was a mistake… Forget the scuttlebutt about it “being too soon” and just enjoy “United 93” for what it is; a masterfully told story of what really happened on United Flight 93 from Newark to San Francisco the morning of September 11, 2001. It’s raw, it’s honest, and it is incredibly moving. It is also a movie made with the full cooperation of all of the families of the crew and passengers who perished on that flight.
Some of those families and the actors who portrayed their loved ones are the subject of “United 93: The Families and the Film,” a 50-minute documentary containing intimate interviews that focus on the families and the actors discussing the emotional challenges of bringing the personalities of the passengers and the flight crew members to life in a way that conveys what director Paul Greengrass calls “a believable truth” of what happened during the 91-minute flight. It is, in many respects, far more powerful than the movie itself.
Also included on the 2-disc set is “Chasing Planes: Witnesses to 9/11” is a riveting 48-minute documentary that chronicles the myriad of experiences, personal dedication and touching insight of the civilian and military ground control personnel on that fateful day. Individual accounts and now historic footage provide a compelling look at the intense efforts to save additional lives and protect the country in the midst of chaotic and often conflicting reports with lives at stake and the security of the country under attack. The documentary examines in detail the chain of events involving the four airline flights that were hijacked on 9/11 with the intention of being used as weapons, including the fateful flight attack that that was thwarted by its passengers and crew, United Flight 93.
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