She wasn't a close friend, but she was someone I knew for many years. Her husband is a braver man than I. I doubt I'll see the movie:
Despite the horror depicted on the big screen, San Rafael's Jack Grandcolas gives Universal Pictures' newest release, "United 93," a rousing thumbs-up – and says all Americans should see it.
The 43-year-old Grandcolas, who lost his wife, Lauren, and the couple's unborn child when Flight 93 crashed nose-first into a field in Shanksville, Pa., on Sept. 11, 2001, says director Paul Greengrass has captured the tenacity of the passengers while maintaining perspective and dignity.
"It's very difficult because you already know the ultimate ending," Grandcolas said. "We all know how the day unfolds. The film's not for everybody. But if you want to learn about the events of the day, go see it. As sad as it is, I think it's a victory of sorts, good over evil and love conquering all. I think it is a silver lining in some gray clouds."
The film, the latest to examine the events of Sept. 11, stays true to the spirit of the passengers who perished, Grandcolas said. Producers' exhaustive research included spending time with surviving family members, many of them Bay Area residents like Grandcolas.
The film portrays the 37 passengers and seven crew members in the attempt to fight back against the hijackers who overtook the cockpit and diverted the airliner from its intended destination of San Francisco International after it left Newark, N.J.
Most believe the commandeered Boeing 757-222 was being flown to the White House or the Capitol.
In the past five years, Grandcolas has sometimes been overwhelmed by reminders of the past. One of the most difficult things for him is the nearly 50-second voice message Lauren left him that day from the airliner.
It has been a learning experience.
"You know, it's like going to college," Grandcolas said. "It's a learning experience every day. I finally feel like I'm ready to graduate. I've learned so much about the media, our government – heck, even myself. I have my difficult times. There are some things I just try and not let myself go there."
Lauren, on the left, and Kate Jennings Grant, the actress who plays her in the movie, on the right.