Friday, August 11, 2006
Tackling the events of 9/11 is difficult because they still remain so emotionally charged. Last April, British filmmaker Paul Greengrass looked to 9/11 for his filmUnited 93
. Greengrass approached the events of that tragic day with the intent of capturing the chaos and terror, and what that moment in history felt like. As with Greengrass? Bloody Sunday (about the infamous 1972 Irish peace march that turned tragic),United 93
raises questions about how best to revisit a volatile real life event. The answer Greengrass has arrived at is to treat it as if you were making a documentary, and as if the events were unfolding live before your eyes. This insures that scenes won?t play out with the portentous weight of history and hindsight bearing down on them.
For World Trade Center , American filmmaker Oliver Stone takes a very different approach. He tackles the subject head on, feeling the weight of history and his task from the opening frames of his film. Although Stone calls his film World Trade Center, his focus is really on the men and women?police, fire department and rescue workers?who were called in once the planes hit the two towers. In particular he?s interested in John McLoughlin (Nicolas Cage) and Will Jimeno (Michael Pena of Crash ). McLoughlin is a veteran Port Authority cop whose experience with the 1993 bombing attack on the World Trade Center is seen as an asset by the young cops working under him. But no one coming to work on that September morning was prepared for the horror that was to occur. When the first plane strikes the first tower, the cops are made aware of an emergency but they initially aren?t sure exactly what it is. But as information filters in they come to realize that their city is under attack.
McLoughlin and Jimeno enter the building in the hopes of reaching people at the upper floors and helping them down. But soon after they arrive, a second plane hits the other tower, and then the two buildings flatten like a house of cards with many of the rescue workers killed or trapped by the massive rubble. McLoughlin, knowing that the elevator shaft is the strongest part of the structure, runs for the elevators in the few moments he has to react as the buildings come down. He and Jimeno then become trapped deep in the shaft, unable to free themselves. Now they must wait for others to rescue them.
By focusing on two men who become trapped, Stone confines himself and his actors to a very small space for much of the film