Cover Art and Menus: 8/10
Good cover, good menu. I can’t say much more. I always appreciate a striking image on a DVD cover and since World Trade Center is, at it’s core, about two survivors who were trapped beneath the rubble of the two towers, they couldn’t have come up with a better way to get that to the cover. It’s simple but it works. The menus are the basic functional HD menus with some images from the film in the background.
- Oliver Stone Commentary – Stone has become an American icon in the film directing world. His movies are not all amazing, but he’s always got his own way of bring a story to the big screen that’s unique and memorable. Listening to him talk about the whole experience of making World Trade Center is a good look into his whole creative process and particularly his almost obsessive need to get the details correct. He’s a little bit odd, but hey, it’s the totally normal people who aren’t quite that interesting to listen to:)
- Commentary By The Survivors – I can’t even begin to imagine the experience these men had trapped under the rubble of 9/11 for so long. They give a very in depth account of the reality vs. the movie and to be honest, this commentary is more than just a commentary. We have the opportunity to hear these accounts from true survivors of one of the most dramatic disasters of our lifetime, and that’s more valuable than most of us realize.
- Deleted & Extended Scenes With Commentary By Oliver Stone – First of all I can’t even begin to think of how they were able to whittle down all the information from 9/11 into this focused story. So when it comes to the deleted scenes I just think they had to cut some stuff loose otherwise we would be watching a 3 day long story. Nothing in the deleted scenes would have added more to the movie. Most of them are tapped into the emotional struggles of the characters, so they are worth watching after you see the movie.
- The Making Of World Trade Center – This is an extensive behind the scenes that is so much more important than just another DVD extra, at least I think so. It covers everything from getting the story together to preparing to rebuild Ground Zero. It’s one more look at a historical event, but from the perspective of a storytelling trying to give an account of the events from a point of view beyond the news stories we have all seen.
- Common Sacrifice – The two men who survived the whole ordeal didn’t just come out of the rubble and jump up and walk away. They and their families have gone through years of physical and emotional healing. This extra is a wonderful look into the real life side of the bigger story we all saw on the news. Be ware, there are shots of their actual injuries, and it’s absolutely awful. I’m not squeamish, but I can say it made me cry to even think of someone surviving that kind of an attack on their bodies. And I whine when I get a touch of the stomach flu! What a baby.
- Building Ground Zero – Surely the most sensitive subject of making a 9/11 movie, rebuilding the site where the buildings all went down. Stone and his crew didn’t approach this in any small way. The amount of effort that went into recreating the scene of the disaster would only be valid if the people who were there, the survivors and the rescue workers, responded positively. From their own accounts several of them actually went through some healing after going through the movie making process and seeing the set brought back so many memories some of them hadn’t been able to face.
- Oliver Stones New York – I’m a fan of Mr. Oliver, and his life is interesting, so it’s good to follow him through New York where he grew up and his impressions of how he sees the city. He’s not a sentimental kind of guy, trust me on this. He’s kind of odd and gives off a tiny bit of elite attitude with his infatuation with “the working class”. This drives him to make intriguing movies, but still, you can see he’s got a different way of digesting reality.
- Q & A With Oliver Stone – More Stone and his approach to making films. If you dig this director, you have to check it out.
- Photo Gallery – Photos, yea
- Trailers – Trailers, yea
The Movie: 8/10
World Trade Center is an up close and personal look at an incredible survival story. It often has the “TV Movie of the Week” kind of vibe, but it doesn’t seem inappropriate because the scale of the event and the scope of emotions involved. The sentimentality pretty much takes over and dictates the style of the film. There are a lot of close ups and captured moments of reactions with characters that keeps your focus on the human side of things. It definitely goes beyond 9/11 tragic event kind of recounting of the day.
The script takes the whole of the day and then pin points the survival of two officers who were trapped in the rubble for many hours. It’s from their point of view, insinde their heads, following their families, their own personal tragic moments that move the story forward. They are just a couple of hard working cops doing their job. They get called into the city to help out after the first plane hit the first tower, and from there we follow as they trudge through what needs to be done to go rescue people trapped up on the top floors. They don’t make it that far though.
We have all seen the towers come down on news footage, from the outside. Stone does his dandiest to take us inside where the two men are at the moment both buildings collapse. The moment is taxing on your emotions and I dare you to tell me that when you watch it you don’t have a flash in your mind of “Jesus Almighty that must have sucked sooo bad.” And then let your mind wander to think of what it must have truly felt like and sounded like. The fact that anyone survived it is amazing, but then to think of how it must replay in their minds time and time again. Talk about post traumatic stress disorder…
We go back and forth from the trapped men to their families, their wives, struggling to get through the day and on top of that coping with what develops into what is so familiar. One marriage isn’t so great after 4 kids and 24 years, the other is still blossoming young love with a baby on the way. These aren’t two movie heroes with picture perfect lives bravely staying alive with smiles on their chiseled faces. These are dudes, cops, one young and enthusiastic, the other older, the boss, the leader, and both are just trying to stay alive in impossible circumstances. Their imperfect lives waiting outside for them.
That’s what makes this film stand out, not just because of the subject, but there’s no fan fare, no over the top Hollywood shenanigans, no Bruce Willis/Arnie/Rocky stuff going on. It is what it is, a dramatization of true events that boggle the mind. I mean, come on! I complain when I pull my toe nail off a little to short. These men had two of the tallest buildings in the whole world crumble down on top of them. They weren’t trapped in safe little comfy air pockets. They had cement slabs on top of their bodies. They were tangled in rebar and wires and broken metal, in the darkness, alone. The movie didn’t even show it as bad as it was for logistical reasons. I mean, you can’t shoot a movie in total darkness, which is what the men were mostly in the whole time, so they had to take some dramatic license to make it watchable. Stone mentions in one extra that they might not have had the men screaming as much as they did in real life either, just because it would be too much for the audience. So, take what you see in the movie and multiple it about 1000 times to get the real picture of what it must have been like.
The style of the movie, like I mentioned, is kind of TV movie-ish. Once the men are trapped the only way to get a sense of their predicament is to keep tight and close on their battered and dirtied faces, with only glimpses of what life was left in their eyes. The cutting back and forth from the men to the somewhat softened and more colorful homes where family and friends waited for news, with slow motion shots of their wives being emotional, thinking of their husbands, watching their children, etc. The contrast is deliberate, to show exactly what kept the men alive, the thoughts of their families, which would be bathed in some kind of emotional light. It adds a lot to the heart strings tugging portion of the movie, of course, but what the hell. I’m all for it in this case. If it were a fictional account of some fake characters living through the ordeal (eh hem…Titanic) I might not appreciate the occasional emotional blackmail, but it’s real people, real stories, who am I to judge? Just some chick on the internet. J Sometimes the subject matter of a movie overrides the snobby artsy stuff that we all use to pick films apart.
Yes it’s one of the few movies made about 9/11 (so far), so it does stand out, but more than just being a movie about a tragedy, this DVD offers up so much of the individual human side of how it effected normal everyday people. So, that being said, I think it’s worth the investment of 20 some dollars just for the extras that cover the ordeal and recovery of the two survivors. If you just want to check out Stone’s take on the event, rent it and save the cash for future movies on the same subject.
Overall Score 8/10