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9/11: The Movie

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I guess it was a just a matter of how long. I don’t even know why I feel any surprise or disappointment now that the moment is here. Yep, Hollywood is mounting it’s first major motion picture based on the events surrounding 9/11.

I can probably write the script or at least do the treatment. Our two heroes start the day at home. We follow them to the penultimate moment: 20 minutes, tops — can’t leave the audience waiting. Then we will get about an hour of disaster, their struggle to survive buried under the rubble, and the final desperate search to find them. Then a final 20 minutes of sentimental, emotional manipulation.

The movie is being based on the story of the last two police men to be rescued from the rubble. These two genuinely brave gentlemen had spent the time after the initial crash and explosion searching for, rescuing, and shepherding survivors to safety. During the collapse of the tower they became trapped and had to wait for rescue themselves.

All very good fodder for the mill that is Hollywood. Who am I to complain if the gentlemen in question have decided to sell their stories to the highest bidder? Hell, after the trauma they’ve been through and the state of disability pensions, and any other support programs across our continent, I’m sure they could use every cent.

But there is just a feeling I get about the whole process that something is being exploited. That the heroism of the people who were there on that day is being cheapened. That the memories of those who died is being tarnished. Maybe it’s because judging by Hollywood’s record, I have no faith in them doing justice to the subject matter.

Why does it feel like it will be the Towering Inferno meets Airplanemeets The Poseidon Adventure? Disaster in a big building when an airplane crashes into it and then people have to climb from the bottom up to the top to be rescued.

Maybe it’s the fact that they’ve only announced one actor when the story is about two men. Haven’t they got permission from the other person who was involved in the incident to tell his story? I noticed that only one of the two individuals issued a press release about the movie. Since when did police officers issue statements to the press?

It all sounds too People Magazine for my comfort. Glossy photos and sensationalistic copy. The fact that the king of sensationalism, Oliver Stone, is directing does little to ease any of my fears. I can’t see the man who has given us such over-the-top movies like Nixon, J.F.K.,and Wall Street showing any degree of subtlety.

Then there’s the ultimate question. Why? Do we really need a movie depicting those events? Was it not horrific enough to have to live through them without someone recreating them for us all over again? Once was quite enough for me, thank you.

What of all the people who lost loved ones that day? Maybe the scars are finally beginning to heal over, and even if they don’t go see the movie, just its existence will serve as a constant reminder of the hole that has been left in their lives.

December 7, 1941, November 22, 1963, and September 11, 2001 are dates indelibly burnt into the minds and conscience of our society. Each generation will tell you that those dates can trigger memories for them even now. Where they were and what they were doing when the planes bombed Pearl Harbor or when the bullets struck John F. Kennedy, and finally when that plane flew into the first tower closely followed by the second, are imprinted forever down to the last detail.

Any movie made of these past events only seems to trivialize that which has become part of our collective unconscious. Everybody shares that moment already. Whether it had a direct impact on our lives or not, it is a moment in which we all participated by living through it.

Crossing all the artificial boundaries of race, gender, class, and status that we erect to give ourselves definition, it unified us as humans. The horror and grief were the same no matter who and what we are. For those first hours, before the events could be filtered through the spin doctors and pundits, we were one in our experience.

For each of us there is an image that sticks in the mind from that day which we will carry to our graves. A piece of film that plays over and over that can never be matched by any recreation or re-enactment. As so called reality T.V. shows have nothing to do with our lives, a movie about 9/11 will have nothing to do with this day on a meaningful level.

When looked at in this context the only reason for making a movie about this subject comes down to a simple factor. Money. A chance to make lots of it by exploiting a horrible event. The only motivation driving this project is greed.

Hollywood exists to make money, so it’s not surprising that they have seized on this opportunity. Maybe they hope by using the guise of telling one particular story we won’t notice what they’re up to. The lame excuse of, “it’s important this tale is told,” doesn’t wash, because it was told and retold in the media.

Most movies are made to be larger then life. The “stars” who appear in them have little or nothing to do with our realities. Intentionally or not any depiction of the events surrounding the terrorist attacks of 9/11 run the risk of being glamorised just through the nature of the medium. It is one of those cases where the reality of the situation could never be matched by the fiction of a movie without it feeling trivialised.

I will never forget the image of the plane plowing into the second tower as captured by someone’s video camera. The certain knowledge in my head that I was watching the death of hundreds of people in that instant was almost too much too comprehend. As the horrors of that day piled up, each worse than the one before, it became impossible to comprehend the actuality of the devastation. It was overwhelming.

Maybe I’m in a minority, but I have no desire to relive those moments, feel those feelings, or watch those images again. Once was more than enough.

Edited: bhw

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About Richard Marcus

Richard Marcus is the author of two books commissioned by Ulysses Press, "What Will Happen In Eragon IV?" (2009) and "The Unofficial Heroes Of Olympus Companion". Aside from Blogcritics his work has appeared around the world in publications like the German edition of Rolling Stone Magazine and the multilingual web site Qantara.de. He has been writing for Blogcritics.org since 2005 and has published around 1900 articles at the site.
  • http://www.docofdiets.com dietdoc

    gypseyman: The national horror-to-blockbuster interval has certaintly shrunk since the events you listed. Pearl Harbor was depicted very early (and very often) by Hollywood but it was for the patriotic fervor it engendered during war. I am not sure when the first feature film appeared for the JFK tragedy (Oliver Stone’s was 1991).

    Like you, I have no need to see the story or the visuals again; I can never forget them. Four years, to me, does not seem to be a suitably-respectful delay at all. But, Hollywood, being Hollywood, it does not surprise me at all. The movie will probably have a big overseas market.

    Cheers,

    Ron

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    gypsyman, do you have a link to the press release or any other news stories about the movie?

  • http://freewayjam.blogspot.com uao

    I don’t have a problem with a movie being made per se. However, Hollywood’s tendency to oversimplify, over sentimentalize, and over signify generally makes important events trite, and this may well turn out to be as enlightening as Earthquake or the Towering Inferno, which would be a pity.

    I also wonder if hostile overseas audiences will erupt in cheers.

    It is a story that isn’t sacrosanct, though. Future generations might be interested in how the contemporary filmmaking world looked upon the events of 9/11.

    Hope it doesn’t suck. I doubt I’d go see it myself, though. Like dietdoc, I’ve had enough exposure to the visuals of that day; I’d rather just stick with my own memories.

  • http://www.pippensqueak.blogspot.com gypsyman

    Damn. Sorry about that, not posting the link to the story. It’s actually a story at globeandmail.com that you don’t need a subscription to read. This should take you there

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20050709.w9110709/BNStory/Entertainment.

    Just cut and paste into browser address bar.

    sorry again
    gypsyman