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WTC: To see or not to see

For me, 9/11 is a random collection of images and emotions. The tightening of my chest as I stared at a photo on of smoke coming from a World Trade Center tower. The disbelief as that jet plane flew into the second tower in the TV in my living room. Catching the sob in my throat as I watched the first tower collapse over the golden hair of my then-three-year-old daughter, who had her back to the TV as she colored in a picture which I can’t remember on the glass coffee table that now sits in our attic. Staring at my bare feet on the wood of my living room floor as I cried out to God with no words at all. And the brilliant green grass on a hill covered with rows of tombstones marking the graves of the unknown civil war soldiers in the cemetery near our house, where I walked with my husband and daughter after we finally turned off the TV, exhausted from the sobs of wives, husbands, mothers, fathers, daughters and sons holding pictures of those still missing.

Over the last few days, those and other images are surfacing and lingering again, conjured by the television trailers for Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center. And, like United 93, I’m not sure whether I should see this film or not. Part of me doesn’t want my memories disturbed or changed or touched by someone else’s recreation of that day. But part of me wonders if I’m protecting my memories too much—or, perhaps more accurately, protecting myself. Those were days of raw images and emotions and I’m not sure I want to experience it again. I can’t even watch the trailer without tears spilling over.

What is the story told in WTC? Stone approaches the event through the eyes of two Port Authority police officers—and their wives—who became the 18th and 19th of 20 survivors of the towers’ collapse. Early reviews of the films are out (some of which are collected at RottenTomatoes) and both cautiously as well as fervently complimentary. Stone’s typical conspiracy theory angle is apparently absent from the film, which according to Stone and the producers “is a simple dedication to the heroism and sadness of the day with little-to-no political themes.” Critics—so far—seem to agree. The bottom line? AICN says, “At its heart – it’s a story of wading through despair and putting your faith in people you can’t see or know are coming. About staying awake through pain, of facing and resolving that you’re going to die, to find yourself alive… again.”

Pretty powerful stuff. Maybe too powerful. People like me have a few weeks yet to mull over whether or not we’ll see this film, as it doesn’t release until August 9.

(Image: Paramount Pictures)