Thursday, September 8, 2011

10 Years Later

Last year in September, I watched three movies about 9/11. The events of that day inevitably had an impact on all Americans and our way of life. But it's hard to feel involved. I didn't live in New York, didn't directly know anyone who saw what happened first hand, so it's one of those great human tragedies that I've had to teach myself about to really feel. I recommend listening to This American Life's series of shows from the month of September 2001 and the months shortly after. I also recommend going to a memorial of some kind, if you can. I know people who are singing Mozart's Requiem next Sunday, and I think that's a fitting way to spend the day. If you're in the LA/OC area, check it out here.

UPDATE: The NY Times has posted the 9/11 tapes, audio and transcripts from ground control staff and airline call centers. It's pretty chilling, but worth a listen.

The Smithsonian's collection of 9/11 artifacts from Ground Zero, the Pentagon, and Shanksville, Pa., is amazing.

Here are some excerpts from my Film Fest of Tragedy last year:

World Trade Center 

While United 93 stuck strictly to the facts, World Trade Center went all Hollywood on us and put stuff in soft focus, dished out contrived dialogue, made children and non-white people the sources of wisdom and all the other usual schlock we hate to have to put up with in big blockbuster films. And it just sucks that someone had to go and do that to the story of 9/11. This movie embodied my fears about 9/11 movies.
Reign Over Me
Go ahead and make a movie about someone who experiences tragedy that makes him go crazy. But why base it on 9/11, which was such a serious and damaging event, so that riffing on it artistically borders on disrespect?
United 93
This was the first major Hollywood film to draw its plot directly from the 9/11. Since then, there have been about six more and around 11 or 12 based on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. FAA national operations manager Ben Sliney, who was on his first day on the job on Sept. 11, 2001, plays himself. It was Sliney who gave the order to shut down American airspace that day, grounding 4,200 planes.

What is particularly affecting about this movie is that it's not entirely unlike action movies we've seen before. In fact, the plot - with an altered ending - probably would have made for a good action movie. But, as we all know, this plot was real. From the very opening sequences showing the hijackers preparing to leave their hotel room for the airport, I was thinking, no... no... no, no, no, because of what I knew was coming.
Since writing the review of United 93, I've gone back to watch the final scene, which several people have posted on YouTube, if you're interested. It still gets me very worked up. Amazing movie.

Here's something especially fitting for a movie blog: a supercut featuring the World Trade Center twin towers as they appeared in movies. Such iconic buildings.

Twin Tower Cameos from Dan Meth on Vimeo.
Source: Dan Meth,

Now let's go out there and make the world a better place. Peace.

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