This past Wednesday, I received an email from WhereToTurn.org, and in it there was a request from a reporter from a newspaper in the United Kingdom called The Observer. The reporter, Paul Harris, was writing an article for his newspaper about the film World Trade Center, and wanted to interview someone who had previously seen the film. I decided to drop him an email to tell him I'd love to tell him what I thought of it.
He emailed me back, and called me later that day. I spent about 30 minutes on the phone with Mr. Harris, and he was a nice man, and The Observer's reporter in New York. He asked me a whole bunch of questions about the film and about my 9/11 experience and my late friend Joyce. I enjoyed talking to him and he told me that the article would run in Sunday's paper.
I alerted two friends of mine in the England about the article on Saturday, and they were going to be on the lookout for it. On Saturday night around midnight, I went on the Observer's web site and I found it in their Review section. And I was shocked what I found: the article was all about me and the film. I thought I would be just a little part of a bigger article. I was very moved by Mr. Harris' piece, which he called: "Remember, Remember...One Bereaved New Yorker Hails Oliver Stone's New Film About 11 September."
I called my friend Tarnia in Lincolnshire and she indeed found the article and really enjoyed reading it. This afternoon I went to a Universal News store in Manhattan and found a copy of the newspaper and saw the article in print. It was on page 3 of the paper's Review section, included with a picture of Nicolas Cage from the film.
Here is the complete article from today's Observer:
Remember, remember ...
One bereaved New Yorker hails Oliver Stone's new film about 11 September
by Paul Harris
For John Quinn there was a moment in Oliver Stone's new film, World Trade Center, when he had to cry. It was not, as he expected, when the first of the twin towers fell. It was later in the movie, when the rescuers are sifting through the rubble a day later. One looks up and asks: 'Where is everybody?'
That was when Quinn most felt the loss of his close friend Joyce Carpeneto. She was in the World Trade Centre and nothing has ever been found of her remains. 'That hit me the hardest. It was the fact that nothing of Joyce had ever been found. She was just vaporised. She disappeared,' he says.
Tens of thousands of Americans have seen Stone's film since it opened in cinemas nationwide last Wednesday to strong reviews. It was a shared experience for all Americans, like the death of JFK. But it's people like Quinn, who knew and loved the victims, for whom the film has a particular resonance.
Quinn had worked with Carpeneto for many years at a record shop in New York's Greenwich Village. They became close friends and she had later got a job at a firm inside the World Trade Centre's North Tower. She was at work the day the planes hit. Neither she, nor any of her colleagues, survived.
For Quinn watching the movie was to relive a horrible experience but also a chance to remember a loved one. Quinn has written a poem about Carpeneto, called 'There's an Angel Watching Over Us', that has become one of the best-known pieces of popular writing to come out the tragedy. It has been published in books and on internet sites worldwide. Quinn travelled into Manhattan from his home in Brooklyn with another friend of Carpeneto's, Deborah Burton, to see the film. They came to the Loews cinema at 68th Street and Broadway and settled in for a 6.10pm showing. 'We had talked a lot about it. Joyce was our friend and we felt we had to do this. There has been a lot of talk about when a film like this should be made. Five years? Ten years? There is never a "good" time,' he says.
As the credits roll, the film opens on the mundane aspects of a working day. People are commuting into the city. Somewhere Joyce was among them. Then the planes hit and the action begins. Stone's film follows the terrible experience of two policemen, played by Nicolas Cage and Michael Pena, caught in the rubble of the falling towers. But as Quinn watched the pair struggle and strive, he knew in the background was the death of his friend. 'When the movie shows the South Tower coming down that is the scariest part. It really shook me up when I saw that. That was probably the time that Joyce died,' he says.
But, unlike real life, the movie ends on a happy note. It is two years later and the survivors are with their families. Emerging from the cinema, Quinn felt pleased that Stone made the decision to end on a kind of high note. 'It's tough to find a happy ending in that, but he did and so I had a smile as well as tears. That was a movie that had to be made. It was respectful and it will mean no one will ever forget the people who died that day,' he says.
Afterwards, Quinn went for dinner and said goodbye to his friend. Then, not wanting to go home, he headed to a favourite watering hole. He knows the regular crowd. 'I just really needed a drink,' he laughed. His friends bought him one.
My thanks to Paul Harris for writing such a beautiful article.
It's amazing the way things work out sometimes.