CINEMA & 9/11

It’s been 11 year today that the world was shaken and in many ways, changed forever by the terror attacks on the World Trade Center, The Pentagon and United 93’s heroic sacrifice in Pennsylvania.

The movie industry has struggled to find the right tone and direction for this subject and since it was only 11 years ago and the wounds are still fresh, that’s understandable. 2006 saw the first and surprising attempts to bring the tragedy of 9/11 to the big screen, first, with British director, known primarily for his work on the second and third Bourne films, Paul Greengrass’s masterpiece, United 93.

The beauty of this film is that it was a straight documentary styled retelling of events of the doomed flight which would crash in Pennsylvania, as many believe, a result of a passenger uprising, but it does so by contextualising the entire event from the perspective of the people on the ground. But in many ways, this was us, the viewers around the world who witnessed this on TV but were helpless to do anything about it, as the horror unfolded.

Then there was Oliver Stone’s “Movie Of The Week” version, which took a look at the World Trade Center itself, but focused on the true story of two cops who managed to survive the collapse. This didn’t work for me and hammered yet another nail in the once outspoken Stone’s coffin, as he sold out to create a safe as houses movie.

Maybe it was the respectful thing to do, but United 93 seemed to be everything that World Trade Center wasn’t, conveying the horror of the day, layered with human drama and incredible emotional tone without resorting to shmaltz and the usual cliché’s as Stone unfortunately did.

9/11 has been referenced more and more over the decade, with the events playing a low-key but pivotal role in Dear John, as this has a detrimental effect on our two lover’s romance. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close was nominated for 2 Oscars this year, with Tom Hanks playing a father who was lost in the attacks.

There have been a vast number of documentaries produced in the past 11 years and it would seem to have been exhausted, but cinema just doesn’t seem to be ready to tackle this subject just yet. It is too soon I think, even though drama/docs have been released on TV already with such macabre footage as people falling to their deaths.


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