Last night I went on one of the most harrowing journeys I’ve ever been on. My palms were soaked in cold sweat, and my heart was beating at an astonishing rate. All this while sitting comfortably on my living room sofa.
I was watching the A & E docudrama, Flight 93, which retells the familiar story of the heroic passengers who defeated the terrorists trying to ram their plane into the either the White House or the United States Capitol on September 11, 2001.
Like anyone who follows the news, I knew the story: while the other planes were being flown into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the passengers on the hijacked Flight 93 phoned their families and learned that they, too, were on a suicide mission. Figuring they’d probably die either way, the passengers did the only logical thing: they fought back against the hijackers in order to defeat the mission.
I knew all this, knew exactly what was coming, expected to see the distraught phone calls to anxious family members played out in all their melodramatic wonderment, and still, I was completely captivated by the moment.
Flight 93 is high melodrama, playing perfectly on the emotions of its audience. It was also the highest-rated program on A & E, ever. It’s all the Airport movies wrapped into one, with the added bonus of being true. One thing I appreciated about this version is that George W. Bush was nowhere to be found in it. There were no speeches at the end, just a simple list of the passengers and crew of Flight 93. The famous “let’s roll” line was uttered, but it was a subtle afterthought. Much more poignant was the scene where a passenger said the Lord’s Prayer with the Verizon operator over the telephone before he joined the group who stormed the cockpit.
It was a film about humans, doing the only human thing they could in the face of incomprehensible inhumanity. Even though we all already knew exactly what happened on Flight 93, it was good that someone recorded what we know about the flight on film, so we won’t forget.