I spent an emotional night at the Loews Theater in Lincoln Center watching Oliver Stone's new film, "World Trade Center" last night. It was simply an incredible experience.
When I first heard last year that Stone was making a movie about the terrible events of September 11, 2001, the first thing I thought was that it was going to be one those "government conspiracy" movies that he's known to be a big fan of. Many people were upset and outraged that he was making a big screen movie about 9/11.
But then it was revealed that the film was centered around the amazing rescue of two Port Authority police officers, John McLoughlin and Will Jimeno, who were trapped in the rubble for nearly 24 hours and were two of the last people pulled out alive. I also heard that Nicolas Cage would star in it, and I've always liked his work, and that made me more interested. I debated for a while whether I would see it or not, but a dear friend of mine, who was also very good friends with my late friend Joyce, wanted to see it. So when I heard that a special screening was being done for 9/11 families and friends, we both decided to attend.
Ironically, it was in the same exact theater that I saw "United 93" in last May.
My friend and I were geared up to see the film. We both knew it was going to be a very emotional night (and we had plenty of tissues on hand), but we both knew this was something we had to see.
The movie theater was crowded, and shortly after 6 PM, Oliver Stone was introduced by the movie's producer and he said a few short and kind words about the film, the 9/11 victims and their families.
The movie is simply a triumph for Stone. It is centered around the lives of McLoughlin and Jimeno, showing them as two hard-working men with families, and what starts out as an ordinary day finds them trapped in the middle of the worst disaster in American history. Stone has brought that day back with an amazing amount of vividness. The South Tower's collapse, which trapped the officers, is nothing short of scary. There are also the constant "bangs" in the background, which were the bodies of jumpers hitting the ground.
The men are trapped more than 20 feet below the rubble, and do their best to stay alive and hope rescuers will find them. They talk about their families and flashbacks with them are seen, as well as the families awaiting word of their fates. Nicolas Cage and Michael Pena play the officers, and are terrific in their roles, as well as the supporting cast that includes Maria Bello and Maggie Gyllenhall.
The movie has an uplifting ending, and I was in tears, along with my friend, as the movie was concluding. There are many moments that brought back many memories of Joyce to me, some of which were very painful. Throughout the film, I could hear people around me sniffling and crying, and when the film ended, the audience warmly applauded.
I know this will be a difficult movie for people to see, but I definitely found it worth checking out. The movie opens nationwide next Wednesday, August 9. Oliver Stone has brought a story of heroism to the screen, and he is to be congratulated for it. No politics, no loony 9/11 conspiracy theories, just a tale of courage and survival.
I'm glad I saw it, and Oliver Stone has really done the Heroes of 9/11 proud.