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Last Updated: Friday, 11 August 2006, 09:32 GMT 10:32 UK
Mixed reaction to 9/11 film in US

By Stephen Evans
BBC News, New York

Oliver Stone directs a scene in the World Trade Center film
Oliver Stone directed the film, which was mostly shot in Los Angeles
To show a film about 11 September, 2001 in New York City is to risk stepping on a thousand sensitivities.

Would people react badly to graphic images of the terrorist attacks?

Would they be outraged at Hollywood sanitization if the film was too glitzy?

Can there be a happy ending when the bad guys got away?

I think every American should see this film
Susan Mastondrea
Cinemagoer

In the event, the critics of the New York papers didn't quite rave about World Trade Center, but they didn't damn it either.

The tabloid New York Post called Oliver Stone's depiction of two cops trapped in the rubble of the Twin Towers "an expertly crafted, respectful piece of inspirational film-making".

The New York Times called the film "almost unbearably moving".

True story

An early screening of the film was held just below Union Square in New York, a couple of miles away from the World Trade Center site.

The reaction of the audience there was less than ecstatic, although one person stood and cheered in a city where films very occasionally have everyone up on their feet.

John McLoughlin and Nicolas Cage
Nicolas Cage (r) plays John McLoughlin (l) in the film
The film focuses on the true story of two police officers, John McLoughlin and William Jimeno, trapped beneath the rubble of the Twin Towers.

The pair talk of their wives and children in an attempt to stay awake - and ultimately alive.

The film cuts to the officers' families in their agony, with Maggie Gyllenhaal playing a convincingly distraught and heavily pregnant Mrs Jimeno.

But in the end, for these families at least, the ending is a happy one. The two men were among the last of the 20 people pulled alive from the collapsed towers.

Broad approval

The broad view of the people leaving the cinema was one of approval.

Native New Yorker Susan Mastondrea, 63, said: "I think every American should see this film."

Kim Carey
I never want to see anything like it again
Kim Carey
New York resident

"It makes you think how many more people were alive in there when the towers came down and that the rescuers never reached," she added.

Maria Telemachos of New York said: "I was kind of sceptical but I really enjoyed it. It was done very tastefully."

But for some, the film is a reminder of something far too painful to watch for entertainment value.

"It's a little offensive to me," said Kim Carey, 33, from New York. "I lived it so I probably won't go and see it. I never want to see anything like it again."

For Father Michael McCloughlin, of Warwick, New York, who lost of a number of his parishioners in the 11 September attacks, it is too just too soon.

"I might watch it when it comes out on DVD," he said, "but I'm not ready for it yet".

Taboo broken

A scene from World Trade Center
The films depicts two police officers trapped in the collapsed towers
For Oliver Stone, to have produced the film and shown it in New York without a big row counts as a plus.

Some of the takings will go to bereaved family groups, although there have been some complaints that the sum being offered is not enough.

And he did consult the families whose lives are portrayed on-screen, though other families have complained that they should have been asked, too.

But there's no row. A taboo has been broken as the fifth anniversary of 9/11 approaches, not just by World Trade Center but also by United 93 - a realistic, documentary-style film about the hijacking that was nearly thwarted.

These two films have been thoughtful and were made with a measure of realism - to the extent that you can capture true horror in movies made for general audiences.

But the question that arises is what follows now the door has been opened?

A film based on the conspiracies buzzing round the internet - for which there is no evidence - is on the way, apparently.

Where good taste and sensitivity goes now, schlock and dangerous misinformation may follow.


SEE ALSO
9/11 film released across the US
09 Aug 06 |  Entertainment
9/11 film criticised by families
05 Aug 06 |  Entertainment
9/11 film premieres in New York
04 Aug 06 |  Entertainment
Stone explains 11 September movie
21 Feb 06 |  Entertainment
Stone vows 'sensitive' 9/11 film
03 Nov 05 |  Entertainment
Stone film to make 9/11 donations
27 Jul 06 |  Entertainment

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