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Hollywood tackles 9/11 with third feature

London Guardian | August 17 2005

It's admitted that the Pentagon has imput on scripts on any big film of this nature. These movies serve the purpose of reinforcing the government's official version of events on 9/11. Just like when you ask people what happened at Pearl Harbor their first thought will be about the made for cinema movie.

A third major Hollywood film about September 11 is in the works, it was announced yesterday.

Entitled Flight 93, the movie will follow events aboard the United Airlines plane that crashed in rural Pennsylvania. It is believed hijackers aimed to attack Washington DC but failed after passengers stormed the cockpit and voluntarily brought the plane down.

The project is to be helmed by British director Paul Greengrass, who won acclaim for his films Bloody Sunday and The Murder of Stephen Lawrence, before directing Hollywood hit The Bourne Supremacy. Working Title, the UK company behind Four Weddings and a Funeral and Bridget Jones's Diary, will coproduce with Universal Pictures.

According to Variety, Flight 93 will cover the events in real time, or 90 minutes, from the moment the plane takes off, its hijacking, the passengers' discovery of the World Trade Centre attacks, and the realisation that their San Francisco-bound-flight is now heading towards Washington DC. The film will end with their decision to sacrifice their own lives by storming the cockpit.
Greengrass will use hand-held cameras to give the film a gritty feel, and the ensemble cast will be given the freedom to improvise their lines, Variety also reports. Production is to start in October with a $15m (£8.3m) budget, a modest sum by Hollywood standards. No release date has been set but one possibility involves showing the film at Cannes and releasing it shortly after.

News of Flight 93 comes just after the announcement that Nicolas Cage is to star in Oliver Stone's own 9/11 project, also due to start production in October. The plot focuses on the true story of police officers trapped in the rubble of the Twin Towers.

Meanwhile, last February, Columbia studios bought the rights of 102 minutes, a book by two New York Times reporters, on the interval between the crash of the first hijacked plane into the World Trade Centre and the collapse of the first tower.

As we near the fourth anniversary of the attacks, Hollywood appears to be more interested in a subject it had previously been reluctant to address. In 2001, Warner Brothers delayed the release of Collateral Damage, an action film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, while Spider-Man was recut to delete scenes featuring the Twin Towers.

While Hollywood's treatment of the September 11 attacks may seem insensitive to some, Paul Levinson, a media academic at Fordham University in New York, called it a "healthy" sign that popular culture is coming to terms with the calamity. "Since this is one of the transcending, defining events of our age, inevitably Hollywood ... has to deal with it," he told Reuters. "It's part of the process by which we come to understand our own feelings about this.


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911:  The Road to Tyranny