…when I saw the trailer for Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center back in 2006. Five years didn’t seem like enough time, but that was mixed with my fear the film would be overly sensational, fraught with special effects that made an odd, unnecessary spectacle of something so fresh and vivid in our cultural mindset. That week of the real event back in 2001 was my first week in full-time ministry, and preparing a blog for the church website at the time was one of the first things I co-wrote as a minister, to speak to our congregants and our city who had so many connections, relationships with people in New York City and ground zero at the time.
However, Andrea Berloff’s screenplay plunges so much of the movie underground, putting the viewer in a helpless and hopeless state, that it becomes a vulnerable and honorable story that is a tribute to what happened. Say what you want about Nicolas Cage, he also delivered a truly moving performance that evokes tears. It’s not a film I can put back in and watch very often, but braving the disturbing memories it might bring also allows for some surprising meditations on what we live for, how we love, how we serve, and what we regret in those moments we believe may be our last. I also applaud Stone for leaving in many honest, open-ended moments that suggest a providential hand behind the amazing rescue that occurs, as well as a chilling outcry of the Lord’s Prayer in the midst of the chaos.
I spoke on the movie when it came out on DVD and we hosted a viewing in Seattle followed by some exposition, so I’m posting the debrief here for those who either remember the film, or decide to take a day like this and watch it. I hope we can glean something from the snapshot the film takes of that fateful day at the turn of the century and how we can continue to because of it. You can play it here, in a new window, or right click to download the mp3.