Interviews: September 11th Movies

Since the events of September 11th 2001, several films have come out about the events of that day.

I’ve had the opportunity over the last few years to interview people directly connected with what happened and some key films related to it.

The first major release to deal specifically with 9/11 was United 93 (2006), which dramatised the events surrounding United Airlines Flight 93, after it was hijacked during the attacks.

That year I spoke with Ben Sliney, the FAA national operations manager Рthe man responsible for grounding all air traffic that day Рwho director Paul Greengrass hired in an advisory capacity before letting him play himself in the movie.

Later that summer I also spoke with Will Jimeno, the Port Authority Police officer who survived the World Trade Center attack and was buried under the rubble for a total of 13 hours, along with fellow officer John McLoughlin.

Their story was the basis for Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center (2006), which starred Nicolas Cage as McLoughlin and Michael Pena as Jimeno, and we spoke about the day, his long rehabilitation process and the movie.

Two years later James Marsh directed the documentary Man on Wire (2008) about Frenchman Philippe Petit, who conducted an illegal wire walk between the Twin Towers in August 1974.

I spoke with Philippe about his extraordinary act and the subsequent film, which went on to win the Oscar for Best Documentary.

You can listen to the interviews here:

[audio:http://filmdetail.receptionmedia.com/September_11th_Interviews_Ben_Sliney_Will_Jimeno_and_Philippe_Petit.mp3]

You can also download our interview podcast via iTunes by clicking here.

Music Credits: ‘Dedication’ by John Powell from United 93; ‘Jimeno Sees Jesus’ and ‘Alison at the Spotlight’ from World Trade Center by Craig Armstrong; ‘Fish Beach’ by Michael Nyman from Drowning by Numbers; ‘Gymnopedie No. 1’ by Anne Queff√©lec and composed by Erik Satie

> Download this interview as an MP3 file
> Find out more about the September 11th attacks at Wikipedia

Twin Towers on Film

This video compilation by Dan Meth shows the World Trade Center appearing in several movies from 1969-2001.

The Hot Rock (1972), Dog Day Afternoon (1975), Three Days of the Condor (1975), Superman (1978), Wolfen (1981), Escape from New York (1981) and Being John Malkovich (1999) are just some of the films featured.

With the tenth anniversary of 9/11 approaching there’s going to be a lot of news media coverage about it over the next two weeks.

Aside from the enormous human cost and dreadful long-term consequences of that day, part of what made the Twin Towers resonate so much was that they formed an indelible part of the New York skyline for a generation.

In turn, they were reproduced around the world in movies and television for a generation, be it the opening of Friends (1994-2004) or various blockbusters like Independence Day (1996) and Armageddon (1998).

This website has an detail chronological list of the buildings appearing in movies, along with some screen shots.

It claims that the first appearence of the fledgling WTC building was this shot in William Friedkin’s The French Connection (1971).

Another interesting development was how filmmakers featured the Towers after September 2001.

Famously, a teaser trailer for Spider-Man (2002) was pulled after featuring the two buildings (although glimpses of it could be seen in the final film) and a drama like Changing Lanes (2002) captured the towers before they fell, but actually came came out several months after the attacks.

Director Roger Michell edited out shots in the days after 9/11 but later put them back in as a tribute.

Later period films, such as Munich (2005), digitally reinserted the towers and this also reflected advances in visual effects as well as their historical importance to New York over three decades.

Perhaps the most unique use of the towers in a film was Spike Lee’s 25th Hour (2002) which used the ‘Tribute in Light‘ in the months after 9/11 for a memorable opening title sequence.

Whenever I think of the biggest news event of my lifetime, this sequence often springs to mind.

> World Trade Center in popular culture at Wikipedia
> The Siege and 9/11
> WTC in Movies (extensive list of the Twin Towers in movies)
> Celluloid Skyline – a website and book about New York on film
> Spike Lee audio commentary for the 25th Hour opening sequence