Thursday, January 12, 2006
The 9/11 Movies
Looks like 2006 is going to be a good year for 9/11 at the movies. It's been four-plus years now since the events at the World Trade Center stunned the world. I remember shortly afterwards how people wondered if they should ever laugh again. Would David Letterman or Jay Leno ever be able to tell jokes again? The terrorist-themed Arnold Schwarzenegger film, Collateral Damage, was yanked from distribution. TV programs like Buffy the Vampire Slayer were postponed due to violence. But I knew, it would only be a matter of time before the events of 9/11 were explored on film. In fact, within days of the attack, while I could still see the towers smoldering across the water from Port Washington, NY, where I worked at the time, I envisioned a film about the day in my mind. It played out similar to From Here to Eternity and followed the lives of five family that would ultimately be tied together and involved in the attacks. The finale, in my mind, played in slow motion to the wistful strains of Enya songs, which were popular then. In time, I knew filmmakers would explore the events of the day. It was inevitable. So, while others wondered if they should ever laugh or watch violence on TV again, I waited for film to tell the stories of 9/11. The documentaries came first. In 2002, the documentary 9/11 was aired, showing the only known footage shot inside the World Trade Center that day. French filmmakers Jules and Gedeon Naudet were filming a documentary on a rookie New York City firefighter when they noticed a plane hit the World Trade Center. The firefighter and the filmmakers rushed downtown, and the brothers kept the cameras on as events unfolded throughout the day. Also airing in 2002 was the documentary Let's Roll: The Story of Flight 93, re-enacting the events surrounding the hijacked plane which ultimately crashed in the woods of Pennsylvania thanks to passengers who stood up to the terrorists, while in the air. The Academy Award-winning documentary short Twin Towers was released in 2003, relating the heroic 9/11 story of two brothers, one a firefighter the other a police officer. In the summer of 2004, Academy Award-winning director Michael Moore released Fahrenheit 9/11, which went on to become the most popular documentary in the history of cinema and win the Palme d'Or at Cannes. Quietly, in 2002, The Guys, the first fictional film to deal with 9/11 was released, telling the story of a fire captain who lost eight men in the collapse of the World Trade Center and an editor who helps him prepare the eulogies he's scheduled to deliver. Now, almost five years after the events, no less than three 9/11 features are scheduled for release. Two films entitled Flight 93 will come out this year. The first, a TV movie, will air on A&E in late January, while a separate (and unrelated) theatrical film is set for released on April 28. Academy Award winner Oliver Stone's eagerly awaited take on 9/11, tentatively titled World Trade Center, opens in August. Meanwhile, two fictional accounts of terrorist acts are also coming to light in 2006. Right at Your Door, which imagines a terrorist attack on Los Angeles, will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival later this month, while 9/Tenths -- which takes place in the not too distant future, when escalating terrorist threats force some to leave the unsafe cities and seek refuge in the country, establishing a new rule of conduct -- should be out later in the year.