Expert Talks About Effects of 'World Trade Center' Movie

9-Aug-2006 9:10 AM EDT

Purdue University

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Newswise — The latest 9/11 film, which opens as the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 World Trade Center attacks approaches, is about the healing process as much as it is entertainment, says a Purdue University film expert.

"9/11 was a frightening, tragic, deadly historical touchstone, but Oliver Stone has chosen to focus upon the heroism and resilience of America in the face of those terrible events," says William J. Palmer, an English professor. "That is what movies do best. They find human resilience and endurance in the midst of brutal reality."

Stone's "World Trade Center" opens in theaters on Wednesday (Aug. 9). The movie is based on the true story of rescuers and some of the last survivors trapped when the World Trade Center towers collapsed after two planes hit the structures during the 2001 terrorist attack. Other movies and documentaries recently released have focused more on the chain of events, and one major film specifically showed how passengers on United Flight 93 fought terrorists before the plane crashed in a Pennsylvania field.

When it comes to making movies about historical events, Hollywood has allowed more mourning time in the case of 9/11, waiting four years after the attacks before films began being released, Palmer says. There was only a two-year gap before films about the Vietnam War and Watergate opened, he says.

"This delay is probably a combination of being sensitive regarding when enough time had passed and a reality of the around-the-clock news coverage that closely followed the event," says Palmer, who is working on a book about the history of film in the 1990s and is focusing on Stone's role as a director.

Palmer also is the author of "The Films of the Seventies: A Social History" and "The Films of the Eighties: A Social History."

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