Saturday, August 12, 2006

Those 9/11 Films

So, this weekend marks the opening of Oliver Stone's World Trade Center. Mr. Stone is one of the few directors who has the honor of putting his name before the film title, and is a wildly uneven filmmaker. From the superb Platoon to the perplexingly bad Alexander, Stone is never afraid of bombast, which would either make him the worst or best choice for a director of a 9/11 film -- depending on who you ask of course.

I'm going to go ahead and pull a Fox News and comment about a film I have yet to see.

Can a respectful 9/11 film be made? Of course it can, and judging by many reviews of both World Trade Center and United 93 two respectful films have been made. However, it is difficult to watch these movies without an eye towards the political. Sure, sure, both directors have eschewed any political grandizing, and claim their films are also without politics, but can a film ever be completely separate from the world of viewers it reaches? In other words, isn't a film always political because the audience will be political?

In my opinion, you can't separate a key historical event from the politics of the day, especially when that event is being bullhorned at the American public to justify a whole range of issues. I cannot see myself going into the theater and shuting off the news of the day while watching the movie.

The service these films provide is to remind us that great heroes stepped forward and accomplished some incredible things. I, for one, have never forgotten that part of 9/11. However, in the aftermath the Republicans have used the heroics and sacrifices of the American people and wrung their bodies for every drop of propaganda. For the Republican party 9/11 didn't represent a tragedy, it represented a Machiavellian opportunity.

America had a chance to bring the world together over this tragedy, a day when everyone was an American, but instead they squandered that opportunity by using it as a false justiffication for a war that is sending the Middle East heardfirst over a cliff. Perhaps ten years from now I will be able to go back to these movies and remember just the heroics, but until then the films will not be just about the heroics, but also about how the Republican party hijacked a national tragedy for personal gain.

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