Rosenbaum on "World Trade Center"

At The Chicago Reader, Jonathan Rosenbaum weighs in on World Trade Center:

“THE HOLOCAUST IS ABOUT six million people who get killed,” Stanley Kubrick reportedly said to screenwriter Frederic Raphael in the late 90s. “Schindler’s List was about 600 people who don’t.” Assuming the quote is right, Kubrick’s speaking about the Holocaust in the present tense and about a movie made half a century later in the past tense suggests something about his priorities.

They probably aren’t the priorities of Oliver Stone, whose ruthlessly circumscribed World Trade Center isn’t about the 2,749 citizens of 87 countries who got killed in the 9/11 assault on the Twin Towers and who are mentioned only in a title when the movie’s over. It’s about two citizens of one of those countries who survived, John McLoughlin and William Jimeno, both real-life Port Authority policemen. The story of what they experienced is gripping and inspiring, but however true it is to their lives—it’s hard to imagine any two men on the planet could be as conventional as the filmmakers make these heroes—the way it’s told restricts what the movie can say about the larger tragedy. … “

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  • Nate

    Rosenbaum is a formidable writer with no qualms about being politically subjective in his reviews, but this latest piece is pretty useless as film criticism. It’s so much easier to quote people like Thomas and Lopez (conservatives who don’t generally write about film) and pass judgment on them.

    WTC did not demonize the terrorists. The movie simply wasn’t about them. Rosenbaum’s response was both predictable and inevitable. (Though in a way, it’s also comforting knowing that he’ll always be there second-guessing the status quo.)

  • jasdye

    rosenbaum is every bit as much a social critic as a film critic. for him, media representations and his view of reality (often socially-constructed, with one type of people pitted against another – usu. rich v. poor; american military industry v. the world; etc.) are well-integrated.

    i don’t think he avoided the subject(s) of the film at all, nate. he wasn’t pleased, saw it as more of the same american jingoism by an ‘auteur’ he severely disagrees with and looked at different readings of the film by some cultural critics. Lopez’ essay was particularly damning of an Amero-centric view that is slowly eating our soul away.

    the men and families studied in ‘world trade center’ may be heroes, great men and women who fight for every stretch of life given them. but the attitudes taken by many to demonize ‘the others’ (i.e., non-Americans, in Lopez’s vocabulary, “them” v. “us”), is anything but heroic. it’s cowardly and anti-
    christian. Ms. Lopez was right.

  • Nate

    It’s clear that WTC wasn’t the movie Rosenbaum wanted it to be. So he whines about it, pulling quotes from several non-film critics and virtually avoiding the subject of the film itself. Irritating.

    Care to comment on it, Jeffrey?

  • Peter T Chattaway

    Wow, I’ve been quoting that Kubrick line in discussions about Oliver Stone’s film, and I almost cited that line in my own review of it.