Upcoming 9/11 films important for historical perspective
September 12, 2005 —
The four-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks passed by yesterday with a lack of attention most would not expect from such an infamous day. The war on terrorism, the conflict in Iraq and Hurricane Katrina have swept into the media spotlight, soaking up an amount of news coverage once reserved for 9/11. Whether this means our nation is forgetting 9/11 is debatable, but there is no real argument that the attack is no longer as untouchable as it once was. Evidence of this can be seen as early as 2006, when Universal, Paramount and ABC all plan on releasing major motion pictures centered on the darkest day in American history.
While it seemed inevitable that Hollywood would tackle this touchy subject, many are still upset that the movies are being made. Theresa Riccardelli is one such person. Riccardelli's husband worked at the Port Authority and was killed in the attacks while helping others escape. She told Fox News.com, "I would never watch (the movies). I'd do everything I can to insulate my children from seeing them. That kind of thing is just salt in the wounds."
Riccardelli is not alone in her beliefs. A large number of Americans feel that making a movie based on 9/11 would be immoral. They believe it would be an insult to those who perished in the attacks and hurtful to their families. While that may be the case for some, those people opposed to it may be forgetting that our culture has tackled many subjects in film once considered taboo. Pearl Harbor, the Holocaust and several wars have been addressed in movies, just in the last fifteen years. To say 9/11 is more sacred than these events would be just as offensive.
Furthermore, if those opposed to movies want to avoid being hypocritical, they should also target authors who have written books on the subject. One of the main arguments against a 9/11 movie is that it would profit from a terrible tragedy. Yet, a book search for "September 11" on Amazon.com yields over 192,000 results. Aren't the authors of these books profiting from the same thing?
In addition, books on the subject are far more numerous, thus receiving less public notice and subsequently, less scrutiny. Authors seem to have free reign over how they address difficult subjects relating to 9/11 while movie directors must remain sensitive and politically correct in order to please an audience destined to pass quick judgement.
One point that should please everyone - even the skeptics - is that the studios intend to create heroic stories. The untitled Paramount Pictures film, directed by Oliver Stone and starring Nicolas Cage, will center on two Port Authority officers who were the last to be rescued from the World Trade Center wreckage. Flight 93, the Universal film, will recreate the efforts of the passengers on the flight that crashed into a Pennsylvania field. It will tell the tale of the heroic passengers who fought back against the hijackers, keeping the plane from hitting its original Washington D.C. destination.
While the subject matter will still be touchy, it should ease some minds to know that the films will be uplifting in nature and in a sense, should have a happy ending.
Cynics would also be less skeptical if the studios donated some of the movies' profits to the families of those who perished in the attacks. While little has been said about whether such donations will occur, it is difficult to imagine the filmmakers passing up such a charitable opportunity.
Without even taking into consideration the moral reasons, from a public relations standpoint alone it would be well worth the contribution. Mel Gibson did something similar with his controversial film, The Passion of the Christ, donating a portion of the profits to hospitals.
Though there are many reasons to make such films, perhaps the ultimate one is to bring 9/11 back into the cultural spotlight. The terrorist attacks on New York and Washington were set to become the JFK assassination of our generation - the event that everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing when it occurred. Yet, in just a mere four years, it has already taken a backseat to war and increasing gas prices.
Releasing a movie that addresses the subject matter in the right way will help put a stop to the disturbing trend of Americans distancing themselves from that horrifying day. Our nation will always be scarred by that moment; thus, we should not pretend it did not occur.
On the contrary, addressing it in a motion picture will help people cope with a difficult situation and put the attacks in a context where they can be openly discussed and analyzed. Our country only serves to gain valuable awareness through such films and clearly their positives far outweigh the negatives.
In the end, our country is in desperate need of a reality check and maybe one of these films can administer it. Though the films will feature actors pretending to be heroes, there is no denying America needs to remember the real ones they are attempting to portray. These 90-minute films could very well aid in honoring the heroes who emerged from the wreckage as well as those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Surely, there is no wrong in that.