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Panorama
September 11: A warning from Hollywood
Smoke over Manhattan after the September 11th terrorist attack

September 11th - a warning from Hollywood

Was the movie world more prophetic in anticipating terrorist threats faced by the United States than the Pentagon?

Panorama reveals that some former CIA agents and intelligence officers shared Hollywood's premonition of terrorism but their warnings were ignored.

Instead, the Pentagon clung on to old-fashioned weapons systems which provided dollars for companies and jobs for voters.

Panorama also interviews people speaking for the first time about the Pentagon's secretive 9/11 project, in which it turned to Hollywood producers for advice on potential future plans terrorists might be plotting.

Nightmare come true

As millions of people watched the horrific spectacle of the Twin Towers collapsing after the September 11th terrorist attacks, many eye-witnesses and survivors compared the dramatic images to a Hollywood movie.

Speaking exclusively to Panorama, top Hollywood producers, directors and writers explain why many films seemed to predict the atrocities of September 11th.

This looks like a movie - my movie

Laurence Wright, author of The Siege
Die Hard's Steve de Souza says terrorism plots became popular because they appeal to the global market place where Hollywood now makes most of its money.

The image of the terrorist attacks "looked like a movie poster, like one of my movie posters", he says.

Lawrence Wright, who wrote The Siege, felt the same as he watched September 11th unfold: "This looks like a movie - my movie."

Uncanny insight

Several blockbusters like The Siege, Die Hard and The Peacemaker show how Hollywood had researched scenarios such as hijacks, bombs in New York, manhunts for Muslim extremists and even the use of planes as guided missiles aimed at Washington.

One tower of the World Trade Center burns
Could such devastation have been avoided?
Intensive research gave movie makers uncanny insight into terrorist methods and psychology.

But the Pentagon's Film Liason Officer Philip Strub argues any connection between Hollywood movies and real-life terrorism is "just coincidence" - although he agrees September 11th was "eerily reminiscent" of at least one film he helped Hollywood make.

The programme also features a former a Muslim adviser who went underground to meet fundamentalist terrorists and thriller writer Tom Clancy, who speaks about his own prophetic plot in which a hijacked plane full of fuel is crashed into the Capitol Building.

Production Team:
Reporter: Steve Bradshaw
Producer and Director: Ricardo Pollack
Assistant Producer: Sarah Waldron
Editor: Mike Robinson

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
A new vulnerability
Ed Zwick, Laurence Wright, Rober Baer and Jessica Stern all express their concerns that the US is no longer invincible.
Jeff Beatty, military advisor to The Siege
"It would be wrong not to take advantage of all the talent that's out there and to say 'how do you guys see this?'"
Panorama September 11th - a warning from Hollywood asks whether some movies were better at predicting the terrorists attacks of September 11th than the Pentagon.




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