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Sunday, April 02, 2006

9/11 is no joke

A movie theatre in Manhattan has pulled the trailer for "United 93," a movie due out from Universal on April 28. The film is a real-time account of the events on United Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania after the passengers and crew fought with Arab hijackers. Newsweek reports that
The AMC Loews theater on Manhattan's Upper West Side took the rare step of pulling the trailer from its screens after several complaints. "One lady was crying," says one of the theater's managers, Kevin Adjodha. "She was saying we shouldn't have [played the trailer]. That this was wrong ... I don't think people are ready for this."
Writer-director Paul Greenglass ("Bloody Sunday," "The Bourne Supremacy,") says he only went ahead with the film after securing the blessing of every victim's family. One such family member is Carol O'Hare, whose 79-year-old mother was on the flight.
"This story has to be told to honor the passengers and crew for what they did," she says. "But more than that, it raises awareness. Our ports aren't secure. Our borders aren't secure. Our airlines still aren't secure, and this is what happens when you're not secure. That's the message I want people to hear."
Universal will reportedly donate ten percent of the film's opening weekend gross to the Flight 93 fund. (Given the creative bookkeeping that goes on in Hollywood, it'll be interesting to see how much that turns out to be.)

While I sympathize with the woman who couldn't take watching the trailer, I think it's good that this film is being released, particularly given that the filmmakers seem to have gone to great lengths to be respectful. If the trailer is any indication, the film should serve as a powerful eulogy to the passengers and crew of Flight 93, and a moving tribute to the heroic actions of those (extra)ordinary Americans.

UPDATE: Ed Driscoll and The Gay Patriot have more. Both of them take the theatre to task for pulling the trailer, and both of them seem offended that some people might think it's "too soon" for this movie.

I agree with them, but I'm far more sympathetic to those who aren't ready, particularly New Yorkers. Bruce (Gay Patriot) says
Again my friends, offending the liberal sensibilities and ostrich mentality is also long overdue. The Democrat Party and their collaborateurs at the TV network news divisions have tried to bleach from our memories those horrific images of 9/11/2001. I thank God that director Paul Greengrass and Universal Pictures have the guts to show some of our American heroes during the hours of our nation’s darkest day.
Again, I don't disagree with this sentiment, but I do think it's a little overwrought. We're talking about some people's response to an unexpected trailer. I saw the trailer when I saw "Inside Man," (in New York) and nobody reacted unfavorably, at least not outwardly. I think the vast majority of Americans are, in fact, ready for this movie, but I also think that sobbing uncontrollably and walking out is an understandable reaction, particularly for Manhattanites.

Both bloggers take this opportunity to trash Hollywood, which in this instance I don't quite understand. Hollywood made this movie, after all. I take a backseat to no-one in loathing Hollywood's smug self-righteousness, and unlike most people who feel this way, I actually worked there and saw it firsthand. But in this case, Hollywood seems to have gotten it right, and either way, it's not "Hollywood" that pulled the trailer, it's one theatre located within five miles of Ground Zero.

I agree with Driscoll and Bruce that "United 93" will serve as a necessary reminder of the horror America felt on that awful day, particularly for those people who seem to have whitewashed it in their memories. And, like them, I'm not all that sympathetic to the people who saw the trailer at Mann's Chinese in Los Angeles and yelled "too soon" at the screen. But unlike them, I'm willing to cut New Yorkers some slack. I was living in LA back in 2001, but I actually flew into New York (where I grew up, and where my family is) on the night of September 10, for what was supposed to be a relaxing vacation. It didn't exactly turn out that way, as you can imagine. Other "blue staters" may need a reminder of why we fight, but in this instance I don't think New Yorkers are among that group.

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