9/11 will never be forgotten. The date is one of remembrance, not just for New York City, but for the world at large. The anniversary is marked by Manhattan’s beautiful “Tribute in Light”, which features two bright shafts of light shining from Ground Zero into the sky, one at the site of each tower.
Tribute in Light has taken place annually since 2011, in memory of the 2,996 people who died that day, and the further 6,000 who were injured. The powerful beams stretch four miles upwards and are visible for miles around – they can be seen as far as 60 miles from Lower Manhattan.
The events of 9/11 aren’t just remembered through tributes – they’ve also been worked into several movies. These stories of bravery and heroic action are a big-screen way to remember those who gave their lives in helping others that day, those who died as a result of the terrible acts that took place, and the tension in the air afterwards. Here are, in our opinion, two of the best films about the difficult subject of terrorism.
United 93 is one of the most jittery 111 minutes you’ll ever experience on screen. Every second of this film is tense, from beginning to end. It seems that every gesture, or glance, every single line of dialog is soaked in meaning. The panicked phone calls and even the confused looks of the air traffic controllers draw you right in and make you feel like you’re experiencing it with them.
Director Paul Greengrass gives us a nail biting re-telling of the fourth plane, whose heroic passengers brought it down and perhaps saved many more lives in so doing. United 93 is reminiscent of Bloody Sunday, his film about the civil rights protests in Northern Ireland in its power and grittiness. Rather than casting stars, he uses lesser-known actors and even some people who were in air traffic control when the events took place, for even more realism.
We think this one should be compulsory viewing. Peter Berg delivers a powerful film about the terror and devastation caused by the Boston Marathon bombings.
The movie was actually created out of two different scripts. One of them, Patriots Day, was about a 60 Minutes episode on the subject of the bombing. It was a factually accurate screenplay but didn’t have the necessary drama and tension to develop a gripping movie. The other, Boston Strong, focused exclusively on the manhunt for the perpetrators. It was exciting, but based mostly on conjecture and imagination.
The two were brought together to create a movie that is accurate and true to the facts of what took place that day, while weaving those facts around a fictional Boston police officer (Officer Tommy Saunders, played by Mark Wahlberg.)
These movies serve as stark reminders that life is so much more fragile, and more precious, than we know. We recommend them for any time of year, but especially around this time when we remember those who lost their lives that day.