First September 11 movies seen at Cannes

22nd May 2006, Comments 0 comments

CANNES, France, May 21, 2006 (AFP) - In the wake of the dramatic September 11 attacks on the US, many pondered how long it would take Hollywood to transform the tragic events to film.

CANNES, France, May 21, 2006 (AFP) - In the wake of the dramatic September 11 attacks on the US, many pondered how long it would take Hollywood to transform the tragic events to film.

It took less than five years, and audiences in Cannes are getting glimpses of two US movies dealing with the attacks including a 20-minute tantalising peek at Oliver Stone's controversial 'World Trade Center'.

Fears that the film — the first to tackle the attacks on the Twin Towers — might contain more of the conspiracy theories for which Stone is famous, appear to have been groundless.

The film is "the true story of two New York Port Authority policemen who are trapped in the rubble, their wives and their children and the incredible and almost improbable rescue efforts to save them," Stone told the audience here late Sunday.

But the film, which goes on release in August just ahead of the fifth anniversary of the attacks in which nearly 3,000 people died, remains so sensitive that Paramount Pictures has written to theatres warning them that the trailers are now being screened.

In the moving opening sequence, the audience sees dawn breaking over the city as Sergeant John McLouglin, played by Nicolas Cage, sets off for work for what seems like just another day.

A soft autumn morning glow hangs over the buildings and the World Trade Centre as McLouglin and the rest of his crew, including William J. Jimeno, played by Michael Pena, travel to work.

Gradually come the sounds of the city — birdsong, traffic noise and even a plane flying overhead.

But within hours the city is plunged into horror, vividly seen in the panic and disbelief on the faces of McLoughlin and his men as Tower I collapses on them at the start of their rescue mission.

The planes hijacked by al-Qaeda terrorists are not seen, except in a shadow that hovers and then passes over a nearby building.

As the clip ended in Cannes with a shot of Cage's eyes blinking open in the dark, there was a sharp intake of breath and then applause for Stone.

"Sometimes history is shaped by the collective memory of people, men and women, and here was a great chance to work with these people," Stone told the audience.

"And they gave us what I hope one day will be seen as the truth. For the truth must exist in some way to confront power and extremism."

Reaction here appears to be positive.

"Five years after the tragedies, it is time to start seeing films and hearing music about the catastrophe, as long as they're done with wisdom and judiciousness," wrote Roger Friedman in

And William Booth, writing in the Washington Post, said it seemed to be a straightforward movie "about ordinary cops lost in an extraordinary hell".

"The first act screens like a traditional disaster movie, with men rushing into harm's way, but it's more haunting because we remember the confusion and disbelief of that September morning."

The clip was shown ahead of a screening of 'Platoon' to mark the film's 20th anniversary, and Stone was flanked by his principal actors in the film, Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger and Willem Dafoe.

'Platoon' changed their lives, said Stone, who was welcomed with loud applause when he arrived.

"I would say the struggle of these 20 more years has been to try to make these stories about people who really see it with their own eyes and their own ears, whether they were in the jungles of Vietnam, the deserts of Iraq, or the rubble of the World Trade Centre," he added.

Paul Greengrass' 'United 93' is also to be shown here, telling the story of a fourth plane bound for Washington, which crashed into a field in Pennsylvania after a passenger uprising.

In March, one New York cinema stopped showing a preview for the film because of the audience's negative response to it. But families of the Flight 93 victims gave the movie a more favorable reaction when it was shown to them.

Meanwhile, Egyptian producers have said they are to start shooting next year a movie about Osama bin Laden, the head of the al-Qaeda network and the world's most wanted man.

They told AFP they were in talks with a top US actor to incarnate the role of the billionaire Saudi dissident, and said they would not seek to defend him but would add to the debate over his motives.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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