- The Washington Times - Friday, April 28, 2006

For moviegoers who turned out today for showings of “United 93,” a harrowing account of the September 11 hijackings, the movie was a powerful recreation of a day seared into the nation’s collective memory.

“I was shaking all the time,” said Yogi Pal Ahluwapia, a supervisor at the World Bank who took off from work to see the movie. “It brought back memories of the past to the real moment as if it was happening now. It was as if 9/11 had come back.”

Inside the theater at the matinee show at AMC Loews in Georgetown, it was clear from the outset that this would not be the typical moviegoing experience.

As the film systematically and unassumingly builds up to the moment when authorities realized that the country was under attack, memories of September 11 came flooding back for many.

Many shifted uncomfortably in their seats during particularly disturbing scenes, or momentarily left the theater altogether.

Jeffrey Shiff, another GW student who grew up on Long Island, said he had steeled himself beforehand.

“I’m from New York, [so] I came in expecting what I was going to see,” he said. “Being the first story to come out, it’s what it should have been.”

Clenched hands covered gaping mouths, and more than one person reached up to dab tears.

“What really got me was just watching everybody’s reactions, calling their loved ones” from the plane, said Adam Petrone, a student at George Washington University originally from Westchester, N.Y.

“The silence after the movie just says everything,” said David Frank, Mr. Petrone’s friend and fellow student at George Washington. “I wasn’t expecting [the ending] to be that powerful.”

Danielle Schulz, who came in from Arlington with her boyfriend Angelo Tsampas, stood quietly outside the theater afterward. The most poignant scene when the passengers decided to retaliate, she said.

“The way everybody on the flight got together and handled the situation was [gripping],” she said solemnly. “They did what they had to do.”

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