got 102 minutes?: I walk these streets, but I’m dreaming of another universe

 “The modern world is a confusion.  It’s a world turned upside down.  It’s brutal, it’s schizophrenic, it’s totally chaotic. All the time we’re told to take, to possess, to own, to fill up our lives with material things, yet in our hearts, we know these things are useless. We despise men who measure themselves by the car they drive, the house they live in, their money.  I walk these streets, but I’m dreaming of another universe.  Modern life gives me nothing but false promises.  It wants to corrupt me; it wants to devour me; it wants to take the sky and the wind from me. It wants to take God from me.”                                                                            

– Mohamed Atta (Kamel), in the Channel 4 docudrama The Hamburg Cell

hamburg cell dvd cover

Such are the chilling words that haunt this depiction of the motivations and lives of the 9/11 hijackers a few years before the Day of the “Holy Operation”, and what’s disturbing about its examination of what led seemingly ordinary men to unleash their primal, primeval anger at the four symbols of modernity and power is the lure of brotherhood in the face of alienation and disenfranchisement.  At some point in our lives, we all feel we are alone, bereft of anyone who understands just how we feel, yet, in the face of an unyielding ideal that apparently can help us focus unrelentingly on the purpose of our lives, who is powerful enough to resist? The Hamburg Cell explores the insidiousness of how group-think and group ideology can, at its most extreme, lead to catastrophic consequences arising, ironically, from a failure to connect with other faiths and beliefs.  But Atta’s words, in the final analysis, attest to the ultimate failure of secularism to pacify the soul or nourish the spirit, even as it clothes the body so lavishly, and demands our slavish belief in its inevitability.

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