5 Films to Consider Watching on 9/11
Sometimes writing comes naturally. Other times, like trying to start this post, it’s hard to put things into words. Just like the assassination of J.F.K. or landing on the moon, there are certain moments everyone will always remember where they were when it happened.
I won’t pretend to being (even close to) alive when those two events happened; however, my generation can still relate to this feeling when our country was attacked on September 11, 2001. I was young at the time but I will always remember flipping on the radio on the way to school and hearing the Canadian commentary (I lived four miles from the U.S.-Canada border).
As we approach the 13th anniversary of that tragically historic day, I got to thinking about what 9/11 means to the film industry.
Here is a list of five films I’d consider watching on the anniversary (in alphabetical order):
Sometimes it’s hard to remember (or perhaps ignorant is a better word) how much 9/11 affected the rest of the world. 11’09″01 September 11 brings the rest of the world into the fray with an anthology film. The movie consists of 11 different segments from 11 different countries (all 9 minutes and 11 seconds long). As you can imagine, there are varying degrees of effectiveness but viewing the events through different lens is something I can’t stress enough. My personal favorite is the segment by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Babel) but they’re all worth seeing (except perhaps Japan’s). The whole thing is interesting at the very least.
James Marsh gained notoriety because of his superb doc Man on Wire. On the surface, you may wonder why on Earth this film makes a list about the actual 9/11 attack, not just the setting. If you think of the World Trade Centers as a symbol, it starts to make a lot more sense. Taking place way back in 1974, the events depicted in the film don’t have any connection to the terrorist aspect, but they depict the World Trade Centers as invisible. Taking 9/11 into consideration, the film gains a whole new level of awe.
I’ve admittedly never seen a 9/11 documentary (despite being fascinated by the subject), unless you count the Loose Change conspiracy doc (which actually is a fairly interesting). United 93 is not a documentary at all; however, it does do its best to depict the truly heroic events that took place on the doomed flight that was likely set to strike the White House in Washington, D.C. I’ve only seen the movie once but it still resonates years later as one of the most harrowing displays of bravery this country has ever seen.
It wasn’t long after the tragedy that it started creeping into peoples’ minds: how long until we get a movie on 9/11? While there were certainly films before 2006’s World Trade Center, there weren’t movies that looked directly at the events. I still think the movie was a little “too soon,” but not enough to steer you away from the picture. Based on the true events, the survival drama follows John McLoughlin (Nicolas Cage) and Will Jimeno (Michael Pena) as they get stuck within the rubble of the South Tower collapse. In the same vein as Danny Boyle’s (Trainspotting) 127 Hours, the film feels more claustrophobic (yet less intimate) and will likely resonate with audiences for quite some time.
I tried to mix up the films a bit when brainstorming 9/11 movies. I included Man on Wire but I think the best movie that embodies 9/11 without dealing directly with the events is Kathryn Bigelow’s (The Hurt Locker) crazy-intense Zero Dark Thirty. 9/11 set forward a string of events that still hasn’t finished rippling (and likely won’t). America will never be the same, but the wound closed most when we finally captured and killed Osama bin Laden. Zero Dark Thirty is a cold, triumphant look at these events in a cinematic experience we all needed so bad.
For honorable mentions, I considered 25th Hour, Babel, Cloverfield, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and The Hurt Locker. What other movies would you consider?
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