I saw United 93 despite mixed feelings and misgivings. It was wrenching and not exploitative. The violence in it is hard to take because it's just so real. I've noticed something interesting over the years, listening to the ongoing debate about violence in the media and entertainment. Critics contend that violence in the media dulls us to real world violence, but my experience is that violence in entertainment--no matter how gruesome--just doesn't come across as threatening. Whenever I see the 'real' thing, I recoil bodily and my soul aches, as it did with this film. Real violence is intimate, clumsy, unexpected and desperate, in a way that it isn't, say, in a movie like Mission Impossible III (or, hell, even Platoon or Hamburger Hill.)
This film shook me. Yes, it's propaganda, but I'm not sure it's the wrong kind. For one thing, it's a reminder that we're in more than one war, right now; that Iraq is a terrible, wasting battle that distracts from that 'other' war with global Jihadists.... And, yes, my liberal friends, I believe that's true, though in my circles I'm going to get a lot of pursed lips for saying it. George Bush and company are criminally incompetent and ideologically insane, but the war with fascist, 'political Islam' is real ("political Islam" is a phrase with a definite meaning which refers to Islamo-fascist aspirations of far-right and fundamentalists Muslims, who seem to me very, very like the Nazis, except they harbor a nutty religious dream rather than a nutty racial and agrarian dream.) Because most of the people I know are not directly effected by Iraq, few having family or friends in the military, they--we--need this reminder.
This film shook me.