Thursday, September 07, 2006

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"World Trade Center" ... A film by Oliver Stone

In a few days it will be the fifth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attack that brought down the Twin Towers in New York City. Recently I saw Oliver Stone’s film, “World Trade Center” and all the emotions of that day five years ago returned. I resisted seeing “Flight 93” because it’s difficult enough to get into a plane these days, particularly for someone who does a great deal of long-haul flying into and out of New York. It took a long time for me to get back into a plane after 9/11. I was living in lower Manhattan then and saw the first tower collapse as I was standing on Hudson Street taking pictures. I’m not going to relate my personal story of that day, it’s not that remarkable as 9/11 stories go, but it was a day filled with images and smells and sounds that will never leave me and as soon as the first few feet of this new film started to role, I found myself holding my head in my hands and rocking back and forth, intermittently mumbling to myself as it all came flooding back. There isn’t a false moment or performance in this film. Oliver may be many things but he is above all a talented and passionate filmmaker. This is the perfect story for Oliver to tell, because it is a story of great personal courage in the face of daunting adversity set against the backdrop of unimaginable horror and devastation and he is a strong enough person and artist to shoulder the huge burden that comes with this material and use that weight to embolden the film.

I worked with Oliver on the movie “Wall Street” when we explored the same financial district real estate that was devastated on September 11. He insisted on shooting his film about corporate greed in real locations, so Production Designer Mel Bourne and I visited dozens of trading floors and brokerage firms on and off Wall Street, including offices in the World Trade Center. Now, nearly twenty years later, Oliver has returned to the southern tip of Manhattan to tell the story of 9/11 through the experiences of two men trapped beneath the rubble of the fallen towers and their families, wives and children, parents and siblings, who had begun the process of preparing themselves for life without their loved one, when they learned there was yet reason to hope. I’m grateful to Oliver Stone for making this movie the way he did. The scars are still too fresh, the wounds too deep and this subject too ripe for exploitation, to be trusted to the hands of a less adept director – not now, not yet.