Fri, Sep 09, 2005 - Page 17 News List

Filmmakers reflect on horror of 9/11 and its ramifications

The terror attack will be recalled this Sunday with the release of movies and documentaries about the outrage


Four years after the 9/11 terror attacks, Hollywood has broken its long self-censorship and is busy preparing its own versions of the cataclysmic horror that gripped the US on that infamous day.

The anniversary of the attacks on Sunday comes amid a wide variety of movies and TV shows that are directly linked to the worst violent attack on US soil in modern American history.

Bizarre as it may seem, even Disney is getting in on the act. Its cable TV Family Channel was set today to show the movie Tiger Cruise, about the children of the crew of a US aircraft carrier.

They visit the huge ship on the day the twin towers are struck and learn what their parents do to protect the country as the ship goes on full alert.

Other programs scheduled for broadcast include The Flight That Fought Back, the Discovery Channel's docudrama about United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in southwest Pennsylvania after passengers apparently fought with their hijackers.

National Geographic is screening the documentary Inside 9-11 which takes an in depth view behind the deadly events, including studies of the al Qaeda network and the chances missed by the US government to prevent the attacks.

Among other shows is a six-hour ABC mini-series with Harvey Keitel portraying John O'Neill, the maverick FBI agent whose warnings about al-Qaeda fell on deaf ears for years. He left the government in frustration and was on his first day of a new job as security head of the World Trade Center on the day of the attacks.

He died in the south tower of the World Trade Center on 9/11.

Hollywood's film studios are rushing in to tap in to the 9/11 fever, with no less than three movies set to start production.

In October, Oliver Stone starts shooting a drama starring Nicolas Cage as a port authority officer trapped under the rubble of the twin towers.

Universal Pictures plans a 90-minute feature film about Flight 93 that will re-create the flight in real time. Columbia is working on a film based on the book 102 Minutes, in which two New York Times reporters talk about the events that occurred between the crash of the first hijacked airliner into the World Trade Center and the collapse of the first tower.

While some may be shocked that such traumatic moments in the national psyche are being turned into Hollywood fodder, Robert Tompson, a professor of popular culture at Syracuse University, says that such developments were to be expected.

"It was inevitable that by the third or fourth year the events of 9/11 would be incorporated into our culture's storytelling," he says.

"Any time you have an event that is so central to a culture it will inevitably get incorporated into its stories."

Andrea Meditch, who produced the Discovery Channel docudrama, told USA Today that audiences are prepared to see 9/11 in a new context.

"It's far enough away from the event that it's possible to think about it with a bit of perspective," she said. "September 11 was not just about a tragedy. There were real heroes who should have their stories told."

Indeed, TV shows that revolve around the aftermath of 9/11 or horrific acts of terror and their prevention are fast

becoming a staple of the American TV diet.

TV pioneer Steven Bochco of The Hill Street Blues recently debuted Over There about US soldiers fighting in Iraq. Playwright David Mamet is working on a Fox TV series The Unit, about US special forces whose speciality appears to be foiling Middle East terrorists.

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