Sunday, November 26, 2006

World Trade Center - a review of a great film

World Trade Center (125 mins), Oliver Stone’s film of the events in New York on 11th of September, 2001 is a fitting memorial to everyone who lost their life that day. It would seem to fit into the disaster movie genre, filled previously by Towering Inferno, The Poseidon Adventure and the more recent Pearl Harbour. The truth is that it is as unlike those films as it could be – it is in a class – a genre of its own. 9/11 as we have since come to call it was arguably America’s worst, blackest day since the Japanese attacked the US Naval Base in the Pacific. World Trade Centre goes further than Pearl Harbour ever did.

No single handed heroics, hair brained attempts at avenging the atrocity, no big name actor’s ego to caress and build up (Nicholas Cage spent most of the film speaking in pained single syllables under the wreckage of one of the buildings) – this was as near to the real thing as we are probably going to get from Hollywood, certainly the nearest to how it felt in the catastrophe, for most of us, hopefully..

Unlike Pearl Harbour, this film had no ridiculous sub plot to lead us in – only McLoughlin- Cage, getting ready to go out onto the streets of New York on duty as a PAPD (Port Authority Police Dept.) cop. Looking in on his four sleeping children was the only sub plot we needed – who could need more on such a fateful morning.

We quickly went through the morning’s briefings and then we were into it – a puzzling, loud thud of an explosion somewhere, and then streets full of paper – dumbfounded commuters looking up at the towers, and then we were in the building – and it felt real. The building collapsed and Cage and his men were plunged into the Hell created by those two aircraft.

We heard the appalling crashes, watched the surviving two keep each other alive talking, and the film took us from the bowels of the destruction to the families coping with the news that hit everybody that day. For them it was more than unbelievable images on TV, it was the end – or threatened to be.

Stone showed Bush say something to the US and the watching world – who could have done otherwise in a film dealing with such a national emergency – but nothing more of what was to follow – what has followed to this day. Stone let the story of survivors and the bereaved tell itself. He did what no other producer has ever done – he left out a contrived sub-plot and just went for the shock and horror of it all. This was no news report or documentary – this was the first of its kind; a film that left the movie industry out of it. This a great film, but it is not entertainment. If it leaves any message, it is that life is precious – we sometimes forget that!
Robert L. Fielding


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