Sunday, September 11, 2011

11 09 01 (September 11) (2002)

Ten years ago today the entire world changed when two planes crashed into the World Trade Center, another crashed in to the Pentagon and the a fourth crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. To mark the day I’m going to post a review of the once controversial, once impossible to see in the US film 11 09 01 (The way 9/11/01 would be written else where in the world) which was retitled September 11 for the US release.

The film is a series of short films each running eleven minutes, nine seconds and one frame long. Each film was made by a well known director. The films take various courses going from comedy (the story of a bunch of kids who think they see Osama Bin Laden in their village and decide to capture him for the reward) to personal essay (the events in Chile on another September 11) to allegory (The final story of a Japanese soldier who doesn’t think he’s human) to drama (an elderly man tries to come to terms with the loss of his wife on a certain Tuesday morning) to straight reporting (the devastating and haunting sequence from Mexico where we hear the sounds of the aftermath of the planes crashing before we see what those sounds really are).

The film is hit or miss with some playing better than others. Several of the pieces (the piece from Mexico and Sean Penn’s tale of old age) are two of the most heart breaking things you will ever see. Others are nice ideas but don’t quite work (the pieces I haven’t mentioned).

The film has, for the most part, aged gracefully. What was once considered an anti-American tirade by many people (almost all of whom never saw the film because they didn’t have access to it when the film was first released over seas) has come to be seen as a nice meditation on how events were seen and processed by different people across the globe. The anti American feelings are seen to not really be there.

This is a film that should be seen by anyone who wants to know how the events ten years ago affected everyone who lived through it. (Though I warn you the afore mentioned sequence from Mexico is tough viewing and I have yet to meet anyone who has not been left an emotional wreck by it. Anyone who has seen it on DVD has turned off the film and walked away for a while, and anyone who saw it in a theater walked out too emotional broken to continue)

Though the pieces are uneven this collection of 11 short films is truly a moving and human experience. There were some who, in the wake of the emotion on the anniversary of the bombings, took this to be anti-American. I don't think thats the case, even though some parts might be taken that way if you don't look behind the obvious. Ultimately the film is nothing except an attempt by people to express their confusion, sympathy and feelings about what happened. These are stories of people who's worlds have been shaken up by what happened on a Tuesday in September.

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