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Just Saw [Insert Movie Title Here]...

...or how my MFA in screenwriting ruined any chance of enjoying a movie like a normal person. If I apply what I've learned to existing films, would it have made a better film?

SPOILER WARNING: Please be advised, I plan to discuss plot points in detail so if you haven't seen the movie and don't want the surprise ruined, stop here.

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Location: California, United States

Friday, August 11, 2006

World Trade Center

Years ago I videotaped some friends shooting pool. Over the course of the evening, I taped about 5 or 6 games with various players which I edited down into a 2 minute clip. What amazed me was that even though the clip was complete fiction, since the viewing, all my friends remember that evening the way I depicted it.

My concern about any film showing the events of 9/11 is that the story and images in the film may ultimately replace my own memories.

Viewing this film was difficult. I couldn't tell if the emotions I felt were a direct result of the story or the actual emotions I felt on 9/11. Much in the way a director will use a popular love song to evoke feelings of romance not intrinsically present in the performance, I suspect that just seeing the Twin Towers was more than enough to recall emotions from that day.

Looking at the film as dispassionately as I can, World Trade Center is an ordinary disaster movie. The acts are clearly delineated. The objective for the characters is survival. There are fewer twists and turns here than in a movie like "The Day After Tomorrow" but also a lack of assignment: WTC doesn't even try to explain the motives behind the attack but tightly focuses on the human drama of getting our men out from the rubble.

This film will not be all things to all people. That was a smart decision. Stories about geopolitical intrigue can be abstract, intellectual and byzantine. Oliver Stone and Andrea Berloff have given us primal emotions. They don't ask the questions, "Who is responsible?" or "Why did this happen?" Indeed, our main characters, for the most part, don't even know what happened.

World Trade Center doesn't offer any answers. It offers relief but no catharsis. Its theme that we are stronger with each other than without is common in disaster movies and maybe this film is a not-so-subtle reminder that we've forgotten this. But still, I found myself fighting back tears despite my stoic demeanor. Even though we're approaching the five year anniversary, we're still very early in the healing process and maybe WTC is a not-so-subtle reminder of that too.


Blogger Reel Fanatic said...

I agree that it does at times seem like a run-of-the-mill disaster movie, but to me, that was part of its strength .. I was happy to see Mr. Stone left his politics at the door and just made a movie about true American heroism

August 11, 2006 4:00 PM  
Anonymous Angela K. said...

Hi Isaac! Stumbled across your blog through a series of links.

Can't watch WTC. Maybe in another 5 years.

Hope you're well. I'm enjoying your posts...

August 18, 2006 2:47 PM  

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