Thursday, August 10, 2006

Film at 11

From yesterday’s New York Times:

This movie has nothing to say about Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda or jihad. That comes later.

In the Sept. 11 of “World Trade Center,” feeling transcends politics, and the film’s astonishingly faithful re-creation of the emotional reality of the day produces a curious kind of nostalgia. It’s not that anyone would wish to live through such agony again, but rather that the extraordinary upsurge of fellow feeling that the attacks produced seems precious. And also very distant from the present. Mr. Stone has taken a public tragedy and turned it into something at once genuinely stirring and terribly sad. His film offers both a harrowing return to a singular, disastrous episode in the recent past and a refuge from the ugly, depressing realities of its aftermath.

I first saw the previews for this film at the Palisades Center Mall theatres. I don't remember what G and I were there to see - they have all been pretty forgettable. As the images flashed before me on the enormous screen, and the dusty faces of the men began to speak, I sat like a stone in my seat, my stomach ice cold. "This isn't right. They can't do this," I whispered to G. "It's too soon." G murmured something that sounded like agreement mixed with discomfort.

The review makes me want to see it, which is more than I can say about most films these days. I've always loved Oliver Stone's work, but this...

September 11th is still so fresh in my mind. It's in the past, but my memories evoke such emotion that I simply choose not to think about it too often. I can, however, still tell you everything I did that day, every thought that ran through my mind, and every person I spoke with. There's a timeframe of events seared into my mind, beginning with the moment I first learned of the horror transpiring just 90 blocks from me, and ending about a year or so later.

I'm lucky that it's a year or so. I'm lucky that the events did not touch my life as personally as it touched others. This is the overwhelming fact that still grips me - how lucky I was. None of my loved ones were harmed. I was not harmed. I think, in a subtle, yet important way, this realization changed my life. I certainly have done a lot of things differently since then. I have seen myself differently, and looked at life and the choices before me differently.

I went through a time where I said that the destruction of the towers and the deaths of thousands of people didn't affect me on the deep level that it seemed to affect so many others. I was wrong. I was just too numb to feel it. I have that problem at lot.

I said when I saw the previews that I didn't think I'd be seeing this movie, but I wonder if it wouldn't be good for me. I wonder if re-living those days, after five years of my own internal processing, might inspire something in me. Might I find a new sense of courage? Might my gratitude deepen even more?

What's the worst that could happen? I'll waste another $10 on a bad film? Get outraged, eviscerate it in my blog? Complain to everyone about it? That happens all the time. Bad films about sacred subjects have been done before. I'll get over it, and so will the world.

I'd rather take the chance that something inside me will be awakened. That I won't be numb anymore. That I might finally be able to shed something, that thick old skin, that dura mater over my tenderest sensibilities. That all the realizations and changes and revelations and heartbreaks and resurrections I've gone through over the past few years have restored something in me, something that will let me feel with all of my being, accept completely, mourn honestly, release with love, and step forward into the world with a renewed joy of living.

That's probably expecting too much from a movie. But...


Aaron said...

Between the fighting over what should replace the WTC and the memorial, the people that tried to scam money by saying they lost a love one in the tragedy to this, a movie being made so soon after the attack - I think it all has a lot to say about our country and I don't like it at all.

Think I might have to do my own post on this - seems I've a lot to say on the matter.

mark said...

I asked myself once, "when is too soon?" Five years? Ten years? Twenty? I know the majority of us weren't there, but were only there vicariously. We watched day and night on our livingroom tv's. We called friends in NYC to see how things were.

But we have to ask ourselves, when is it still too soon? From what I understand about the movie, it's getting incredible reviews. It's nothing political. Just the story of three people. Two who were trapped and one man who put on his navy uniform and helped people.

That and the story of how it affected their families. I think movies like this help us REMEMBER. I read an article recently that 30% of americans couldn't tell you exactly what year 9/11 happened.

Dr. Zoom said...

I have to agree with Mark. I understand that some think it's too soon, but for as devastating as 9/11 was, it was an event so historically important that we need to revisit it. I would rather have it remembered as it was than with a barrage of conspiracy theories. This is a better way to remember.