Friday, August 11, 2006

World Trade Center

I saw World Trade Center, Oliver Stone's movie about 9/11. As reported by other critics, Oliver Stone does not use the events in this movie to jump on a soap-box. Instead, he takes a straightforward look at one of the remarkable survival stories of that grim and fateful day.

It is the story of John McLoughlin and William Jimeno, two Port Authority policemen who went into the World Trade Center that morning, aiming to help. Instead, they were crushed underneath the rubble when the towers collapsed. This first part of the movie takes place quickly.

The long middle of the movie takes us underneath the rubble, alongside these two average men, suffering above average pain. These scenes are dark (literally; the frames are mostly unlit), and close. As a viewer, you wanted to get out too.

The long middle also takes us into the worried families of these men (both are married with children). The actresses who play their wives convey the strength, the fear and the doubt that they certainly had to have, especially on that terrible day. In many ways, this was the more compelling story. We knew and the trapped policemen knew where they were: these women didn't.

The movie takes us from unknowing to knowing, from fear to joy. The dramatic finish is something Hollywood wouldn't dare write (a former Marine drives in from Connecticut, makes his way to Ground Zero, and begins calling out for survivors). But we accept it, with tears in our eyes, because it is what really happened that day.

The movie is a 'rescue' story. Rescues happen on all the time. But on 9/11, from the rubble of the fallen towers, there were only a few dozen 'survivors'. This is a great movie about two of those survivors and their rescuers.

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