{Of all lies, art is the least untrue - Flaubert}

Friday, June 01, 2007

United 93

There is something purely uneasy about the connection between viewers and the films of certain type. We know that even if the film is not inherently manipulative, but due to its particular type, its effect on viewers, who in his natural instincts take everything emotionally, become little dangerous. For such films, it is not good enough to be non-manipulative, but to consciously resist and check any easy response by the viewer. The mastery in film making is not in exactness of camera angles and editing, but in the ability to make a decision, a moral artistic decision, of the effect they can have on the viewers and is it what a director wants. This is one of the main areas where United 93 disappoints.

When I was talking about the effect of the film on a viewer, I was not talking about other viewers, I was saying that based on my own experience, i.e. one particular experience. But, the point I was trying to make is quite general though, the point that whether this film grips you to an extent that you stop thinking, which is not a response we expect from a film based on such a issue.

I am purely against that a film should have any moral teaching, but I totally want a film to have a moral center (mystically we can call it 'soul'), I don't expect an alien with hi-tech know-how making it. It is no denying fact that United 93 is impeccably designed and executed, but it lacks that moral center because the fragment of recent history which the film so immaculately re-creates loses any meaning, what so ever, in its monumental aloofness to the space it is derived from, with no umbilical chord joining it to the rest of humanity, and that's why what we experience in this film are our basic animal emotions - fear, anger, pity, horror, hatred and repeatedly getting excited - which without any moral fulcrum falls flat as an excited angry fist pounding the chairs in the cinema hall.

As a film that sets out as a tribute to the lost, unintentionally(?) ends up being a two hour high octane thriller, providing all the cinematic thrills for general consumption, United 93 and the films of its neighborhood, need to do some serious thinking. United 93 makes history more painful for those who were connected to it directly, and make it more thrilling for the others. If at all, it just says one thing in all its gritty realism - see it all happened to us.


Alok said...

we had the same discussion before too. I felt the intentions behind the film were honest... the main reason I felt so (and i think the most important aspect of the film) was because it doesn't get into psychological analysis mode. no attempt is made to make you "identify" with any of the people on the plane. I think the first half hours of the film are exemplary in this respect and the most important. yes i thought the scenes of the highjackers praying in their apartment was unnecessary (and a major flaw if you will).

in the end i think it is not only filmmaker's responsibility to find a "soul" or "a moral center"... it is also viewer's responsibility to take it from a distance and think about it clearly in a cool-headed manner and to find that center. there are people who might enjoy the thrill ride and see it "pornographically" but then it reflects more on them than on the filmmakers.

Divine India said...

Hi Anurag,
U hv a gr8 blog about cinema...
actually i m a Film Direction Student in Mumbai...we hv a project on "The Decalogue 6" so i m searching for sme material about Character analyisis...so i m here.
i m very found of International Cinema...so want to contact if possible mail me on divyabh.aryan@gmail.com or u can visit my blog.
if u find sme gr8 source for plot analysis or characterization plz. inform me.