Jul 8, 2006

Hollywood at war

Nathan at Homocon links to this sneak preview of Oliver Stone's World Trade Center.
Here we have one of the most dramatic and moving experiences in modern history, and the movie manages to take all of those real images and all of those real stories and produce exactly NO real moments of emotion or truth. I actually kind of liked the trailer and was expecting a sort of big emotional cathartic event. But the movie manages to suck all of the life out of the true story, and only ever manages to squeak together any moment of epiphany toward the end with a Nicholas Cage voiceover TELLING us what we're supposed to take away.
Nathan thinks that's because 9/11 is still too recent.
I have a feeling that there's a good reason why movies about Vietnam didn't really start to resonate with the mainstream consciousness until well into the nineteen-eighties ("The Deer Hunter" notwithstanding). "Platoon" achieved its significance precisely because it was filmed fifteen plus years after the actual events, and can you imagine "The Bridge Over the River Kwai" if it had been rushed to production in 1947 instead of being released in 1957, twelve years after the end of the second World War?

I don't buy it. The first fictional retelling of Pearl Harbor came in 1942, the same year as Casablanca. Hollywood was churning out World War II movies almost immediately after war was declared. Just look at the films two of Casablanca's stars appeared in while the war was on. Humphrey Bogart also starred in Action in the North Atlantic, Sahara, Passage to Marseilles and Across the Pacific. Paul Henreid starred in Night Train to Munich, The Conspirators and In Our Time.

No, the difference between now and then is that during World War II no one felt any ambivalence about the war. Now, and during Vietnam, that wasn't the case. Hollywood was so squeamish about 9/11 that it delayed and/or altered movies about terrorism or movies that showed the World Trade Center, much to the detriment of the bottom line.

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