'United 93': Sobs and Applause

"United 93" is a movie of firsts. It was made from the heart and not to make money, certainly. It�s a short movie but one that you never want to see end � not because the story is so appealing, but because you know what the end is, and you never want it to come.

That must have been how the audience sitting in the balcony of the Ziegfeld theater -- the family members of those who died on the doomed flight -- felt last night at the film�s premiere.

When the 93-minute movie ended � in silence, not an explosion � the people in the balcony sobbed in a way I have never heard before in a movie house.

It was gut wrenching, and it was terrifying. I don�t know if "United 93" has given them closure or permission to keep reliving this horror.
Peter Greengrass has made an extraordinary document for them of what their relatives must have gone through in their final hour of life.

�United 93� is beautifully crafted, thoughtful and precise. There is nothing wrong with it. In fact, it has the polish of perfection, hitting every note, dotting every �i,� crossing every �t.� You have to admire the stamina of everyone involved that they were able to pull off such a feat.

We know the story, so we don�t have to go into the details of that. Anyway, "United 93" depends, like all films, on making a connection with the actors.

And here�s where there is a significant surprise, because other than a small handful of professionals, the movie belongs to a total acolyte and newcomer.

Ben Sliney, national operations manager for the FAA at Kennedy Airport, was in the control tower when the tragedies of Sept. 11 unfolded. He later testified before the 9/11 Commission.

A professional actor was hired to play him in the movie, but after Sliney arrived on set, he took over the job of playing himself. It�s one of those strange Hollywood stories, but Ben Sliney turns out to be the star of �United 93.�

If he wanted one, he could have an acting career, perhaps. Alas, he doesn�t seek the fame. But Sliney becomes the moral and sympathetic center of the story as chaos unfolds quickly. You keep hoping while he�s on screen that all the people in the FAA are like him.

In the end, �United 93� probably cannot be judged in any unemotional way. Greengrass has done something amazing for these families by bringing alive what must exist in their imaginations and nightmares.

FOX News Poll: Public OK With Movies About 9/11

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