September 11th movies

There’s a lot of talk right now about United 93, the new movie account of that plane during the September 11th hijacking. Then there’s the new Oliver Stone film, World Trade Center, also coming out around the same time. I read an interesting article in the Philadelphia Inquirer that asks the same thing many other columnists have been asking — is it too soon for a film about that landmark event?

Is the American public still so deeply scarred and shattered by the events of 9/11? Yes, bone fragments are still being found at Ground Zero. Yet it has been almost 5 years. Are we still so afraid? Is the threat of terrorism still on the forefront of our minds that we are still living in constant fear in the shadow of the twin towers? Are we too sensitive as a nation?

I think (hope!) the answer to those questions is no. I think the real problem with United 93 lies in two things. First, this movie, although fictionalized, is based on real, specific people, and their families are still mourning. There’s a general sensitivity toward the families involved, because it’s their newly-deceased relatives that are up there on the screen. We wonder how they will be portrayed in the Hollywood glamour. 

The second problem is that it has to do with us. Countless films dealing with crisis in Somalia, etc, came fast on the heels of those events without even a thought. I suspect that, if this were an action movie about the invasion of
Afghanistan and the ousting of the Taliban, voices would not raise in
protest. It’s easier to swallow a crisis/war film when we are not the victims. Come to think of it, maybe we are a little too sensitive after all.

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