Thus, the question about how to represent the events and offer a way to cope with the pain – which for a huge portion of the inhabitants of the northern country was synthesized in extreme confusion in the face of the supposedly inexplicable nature of the attacks – had its correlate in narratives of all kinds of genre and tone that sought to dialogue with a shocked public.
In November and December 2001 the first installments of the sagas of “Harry Potter” (by Chris Columbus), “The Lord of the Rings” (by Peter Jackson) and “Pirates of the Caribbean” (by Gore Verbinski) hit theaters. , very successful fantasy tanks that, although they were developed before the attacks, they allowed audiences to find the opportunity to immerse themselves in universes in which the difference between good and evil is very clear, and where union can do everything against the dark.
The deleted scene from “Friends”
But the tactic of escape and denial also existed in what was not seen: Ben Stiller’s comedy “Zoolander,” the romantic movie “Signs of Love,” and Sam Raimi’s then-post-production “Spider-Man.” do last minute modifications to the scenes featuring the Twin Towers.
Along the same lines, the anecdote of how the creators of “Friends”, the sitcom set in New York that at that time was going through the break between its seventh and eighth seasons, they deleted a subplot in an episode that was seen weeks after the fact, in which Chandler couldn’t help but joke about airport bombs and had just been detained by security personnel.
Other action projects, such as “Collateral Risks” or the thriller “Tick Tock”, had to be postponed or directly suspended due to the sensitivity of their respective plots.
Meanwhile, the growing Islamophobia spread by the US authorities and people and the feeling of vulnerability in the face of the external enemy that year gave rise to “24”, remembered television series with the leading role of Kiefer Sutherland in the role of Jack Bauer, an agent of the Antiterrorist Unit who faces dramatic threats to national security.
Once the intervention in Afghanistan had begun, that representation of national heroism framed in espionage and military themes – perhaps a way of avoiding the “it is still too early” in the face of the most direct images of what happened – also had its place in the cinema, with tapes such as “Behind enemy lines”, “Unknown identity” and “The fall of the Black Hawk” (2001) or “The sum of all fears” (2002).
Between fantasy and harsh reality
A decade later, that thematic trend would also explain the success of “Homeland“, the Showtime strip headed by Claire Danes as CIA agent Carrie Mathison -based on a 2010 Israeli series-, and the appearance of “Sniper” (2014), the Clint Eastwood drama inspired by the life of the deadly soldier Chris Kyle, which positioned itself as the highest grossing of that year.
But even over the years, when it was decided to specifically address the attacks and their consequences, the industry did not find a great reception from viewers, who still clung to satisfactory but not frontal narratives, with people “commons” surviving catastrophes, like the brave Ray Ferrier played by Tom Cruise in “War of the Worlds” (2005, de Steven Spielberg).
In this plane, the films “Flight 93” (2006), “The twin towers” (2006), “Hope lives in me” (2007) and “Remember me” (2010), all focused on real or fictitious experiences around the attacks, failed to resonate strongly with the public, as also demonstrated “Live to the limit” (2009), the tape of Kathryn Bigelow that despite receiving the Oscar a Best film, became the lowest grossing to be awarded that award in history.
Perhaps by appealing to the plausible without turns, that litter of productions was quickly buried by the thirst for revenge brought to the big screen with the unparalleled popularity of superhero movies in the post-9/11 United States, on a path started by the trilogy of Raimi and his friendly spider neighbor who helped the citizens of, no more, no less, his native New York.
It was followed by the Batman saga directed by Christopher Nolan (2005, 2008, 2012), “The Man of Steel” (2013), by Zack Snyder; and the giant Marvel franchise, with “The Avengers” (2012) fighting between easily associable images – the dust, the explosions, the ruined buildings – in the heart of the Big Apple.
The threat of terrorism
However, the two decades that have elapsed since that fateful day begin to present small interstices in which other more reflective productions – even sometimes from humor – regarding the position of that country around terrorism and hatred of Islamism find a possible space. .
There appear titles such as series “The Night Of”, drama with Ahmed Rice as a boy of Pakistani origin who is accused of a crime more because of his ethnic-religious origin than because of the evidence against him; “Ramy,” a comedy starring a young Muslim man in New Jersey; and the explosive “The Boys”, which with a lot of ‘gore’ and acidity brings an insightful critique to the montage of superheroes and the creation of external enemies.
In the field of cinema, last year he premiered at the Festival de Sundance -and recently landed on Netflix- “How much is life worth?”, biopic with Michael Keaton exploring the legal process of compensation to the families of the victims of the attacks; followed in early 2021 by “The Mauritanian”, on the real case of Mohamedou Ould Slahi, who spent 14 years illegally detained in Guantánamo for an alleged link with Al Qaeda.
With a sometimes winding but rarely remarkable journey for its authenticity, Hollywood, which strove to appeal to a spirit of strength and symbols of power when fighting against it.the incarnation of evil that comes from outside, now sees a more honest scenario – and accompanied by a movement that seeks to represent minorities more than ever – to mediate with their ghosts.
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the industry in the face of a traumatized society