Peace through victory - the American way.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Best 9/11 Movie: The Hamburg Cell

The great flaw of the movie United 93 was that it merely chronicled the events of September 11th. By the end of the movie the audience understood nothing about the passengers who won America's only victory on that day. The artistic decisions to avoid even identifying the passengers and to tell a story of heroism without heroes resulted in a movie with a large hole at its center.

The Hamburg Cell, on the other hand, tells the story of the 9/11 hijackers in depth. The movie follows the lives of the primary hijackers, first in Germany and then in America, as they give their lives over to jihad. The plot focuses on the hijacker who will pilot United Flight 93. He changes from a clean-shaven, modern, lax Muslim with a live-in girlfriend into a bearded, true believer, who seeks to dominate his wife, and who ultimately lies to her about everything he is doing.

The dominant feeling elicited by United 93 was tension, which transformed into rage during the movie's last moments depicting the passengers' counter-attack. The Hamburg Cell creates horror by having us watch the transformation of ordinary Muslim men into cold killers. The movie is a psychological horror story of men giving themselves over to evil in a very matter of fact fashion. Throughout the movie the men remain very ordinary in appearance and outward behavior, illustrating Hannah Arendt's 20th Century insight about the banality of evil.

The Hamburg Cell is available on Netflix. It is directed by the gifted Antonia Bird, whose previous horror movie is Ravenous, which told a story of cannibalism in America's Old West.

-tdr

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