The International Writers Magazine: Comparative Review

Flight 93
Director - Peter Markle
Screenplay: Nevin Schreiner
Starring - Jeffery Nordling, Brennon Elliott, Kendall Cross, Ty Olsson, Monnae Michaell, Colin Glazer.
Universal pictures

World Trade Centre
Director - Oliver Stone
Starring - Nicolas Cage, Michael Pena, Maria Bello, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon.
Screenplay: Andrea Berloff based on a true story by John McLoughlin
Double Feature Films
Paramount Pictures

A Holly Joy Review

True Event’ films can be touching to an audience, as they are factual rather than entertaining. This review will consist of two different films each providing different structures to attract a target audience. However, the two films have a strong similarity and link between them as they are both based on the same true story.

The film ‘Flight 93’ directed by Peter Markle was the first of the two films to become released. Before the film even begun the audience will have had an idea of what the storyline of the film was going to be. This particular film targets a wide audience all over the world, as the tragic event 9/11 attacks will remain in history forever. The attack filled every home with live footage and news reports used as a step-by-step guide of the progress of that particular day.

The majority of the audience understood why there was a separate film produced called ‘Flight 93’ as this was the airplane that fought against the terrorists to save thousands of innocent people, resulting in the plane crashing in Pennsylvania. This particular film did not hold a surprise within the film plot, as the audience’s knowledge of the event is so great. The storyline was based and formed from the information provided by family members and friends of those passengers on the flight. Information and facts ranging from what the passengers were saying on the telephone, their plans, to every item of clothing they were wearing that specific day.

Emotions are high within this film as it brought back memories of the tragedy on September 11th 2001.
The range of emotions that run through the characters are touching to the audience and make the audience feel as though they are there on the plane themselves. Fear fills not only the character but the viewers as well; I personally felt the fear that was created by the atmosphere upon the plan and how the victim’s heroic decisions changed fear into determination to save a lot of other people.

Although, the viewers knew what to expect from the film I still found myself questioning what was going to happen next. Watching the film brought back the memories of that day but in a greater depth, of loss and sorrow and the pain that people went through to help others, and the pain that still remains with the families till this present days.

The second film, which is linked closely to ‘Flight 93’ is the new release of ‘ World Trade Center’ Directed by Oliver Stone. This film differs immensely to ‘Flight 93’. This is because the structure and the narrative of the film changed to make sure that the film became factual based film of an historical event rather than a film created for an entertainment purpose.

Trailers were produced for the launch of the film but clippings were very limited as the films intention is to become a symbol of remembrance rather than mere entertainment. Many viewers saw the film to pay their respects to those who lost their lives in the tragedy and to find out more information into what actually happened that day.

There were many critics circulating the films launch about whether the ‘world’ would be ready for a film like this to be released, as the film would bring back a lot of memories to people across the world, it would also affect the families that had also lost loved ones in similar political disasters such as ‘The London Bombings and The Madrid Bombings’.‘ World Trade Center’ is a very emotional film from the beginning to the end. The opening sequence is very tense and the atmosphere is almost uncomfortable to experience. Shot angles and techniques allow the audience to feel as though they are involved with the film as point of view shots are used constantly within the first few scenes.

Non-diegetic sound and music was not necessary throughout the film as sound could become a distraction and shape misleading emotions that are unwanted within this particular film.

A breathtaking moment within film was the live footage of news reports that echoed throughout towns and villages all over the world, which acted as a flashback in history to the moment that any one viewer in the audience found out about the disaster. The close-up shots of the faces of people’s reaction in the live footage almost made my heart stop; it left a lump in my throat as it brought a memory back to life.

The film focuses on two main characters and their role in society being police officers that were sent to help at the towers. The audience are with them every step of the way as they risk their lives to save others, the audience are then able to witness the stress and devastation that each family member goes through and how waiting can feel like hours when no-one knows anything.

The anxiety and hope that is created by the film acted in two ways the first being a flashback to September 11th and the trauma following the event until this present day. Secondly, from a personal view, I made myself forget that I knew what the film was going to consist of and how it was going to end, as I was so intrigued to find out the outcome of these two heroic characters and whether their ambitions and determination could live long enough to become reunited to their families.

Both of these films were very emotional and respectful towards the attack 9/11, as the films were created by the information and raw footage received by family members and news reporters.

However, there remains a clear difference between the two films even though they are closely linked because they are both ‘True Events’. I feel as though ‘Flight 93’ came across as a story that a wide audience would be able to relate to because of the media coverage following the event of the crash. Although, this particular film still remained a mystery, as the audience do not provide the same knowledge as they do for the event of ‘The Twin Towers’ when watching the film. As the knowledge of the audience was limited of ‘Flight 93’ the film had to fill in the gaps that were missing in the audiences mind of what actually happened that day.

The set up and character arrangement within the two films also differ to allow the audience to build closer relationships. For example ‘Flight 93’ focuses on a number of characters as the audience are introduced to the majority of the passengers sitting on the plane and we get to know them as a group. Whereas, ‘World Trade Center’ follows two individuals and their battle for survival, which forms a stronger relationship with the audience. World Trade Center builds upon the emotions and experiences of the survivors of the attack, which automatically makes the film factual rather than for entertainment purposes. Live footage of the public’s reaction and the towers crumbling to the floor eliminates any storyline that exists, as it moves the film away from a narrative and places the audience back into the past of September 11th 2001.

© Holly Joy November 2006
hjoyz at

Holly is studying Creative Writing at the University of Portsmouth


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