We live in a time and a culture where terrorist acts are not only frequent, but grand. It’s a problem that continues to grow, even with different measures that have been put into place. It’s hard to imagine a world where we don’t turn on the nightly news to hear of another senseless bombing. The thing is, however, it wasn’t that long ago that we lived in that world.
On December 21, 1988 two countries were faced with an unexpected tragedy. A Pan Am flight departing from London was ripped apart over Lockerbie Scotland by an onboard bomb. 259 passengers and 11 people on the ground died that fateful day. Since: The Bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 takes an emotionally honest look at the tragedy, then and now, through the eyes of victims’ loved ones as they try to make sense of what unfolded.
Flight 103 is a terrorist act that some may know from memory, but it’s also a tale that not many are fully aware of. What this documentary does well is present the information in an unbiased way. You can follow a paper trail of documented events, what governmental offices did, or did not do, and have a timeline that is easy to understand. While that is an important aspect for a documentary, where truth is the lifeline of the narrative, what is important to this story is how it goes beyond the facts. It’s the emotional void left in so many lives that makes this film significant.
For some, this information and trajectory was something that was experienced in real time, but for others this is an education. It’s an education in how dreadful our government treated this situation. It’s frustrating to realize how long and drawn out the quest for the truth really was. Considering how similar circumstances are from that moment to what we deal with on a daily basis is nauseating. The quest for cultural change grows with each passing moment, but the solution is never clear.
This is a story about the survivors, and what that means to several different families. We take the journey with the parents of victims and the citizens of Lockerbie as they relive their experiences of the tragedy and what followed, as well as experience new ones since the story is still unfolding.
In disasters like these it’s easy to focus all of our attention on the why, to focus on the prevention, and to focus on the justice. The element that is easy to forget is how one moment of time will forever change the course of history for so many. That is where this documentary excels. It’s not about social justice, it’s about personal strength. We become acquainted with the families and feel their pain. This is to remind us that we must never forget.
There are many moving parts within the portrayal of the information regarding this bombing. Politically motivated moves by multiple nations is presented with unwavering savagery. Since the bombing, four different Presidents served their terms in office. Four different men saw the ushering in of different maneuvers by all those involved. And yet none of them could deliver the justice these victims deserved.
Frustration begins to grow on the governmental front, and with one segment is all washed away. In this segment, we turn the corner of Suse’s cottage, who is the mother of victim Alexander Lowenstein, we witness a heartbreaking sculpture garden. She captured the moment the families learned of the victim’s death, the gut wrenching pain universally felt. The heart of this film is realized again.
No matter what played out since that tragic day in December 1988, lives were lost, lives were changed, the world suffered. This documentary isn’t about education, it’s about remembrance.
Since: The Bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 plays the Newport Beach International Film Festival on Tuesday, April 26th at 7:15 pm.