Hollywood cashes in on tragedy

Ben Breier

When I sat down to catch a screening of Munich last month, a thought began to pass through my conscience: After what amount of time is it socially acceptable to make a movie about a major tragedy?

Munich, which tells the tale of the brutal capture and murder of 11 athletes from the 1972 Israeli Olympic team by Arab terrorists, was released in theaters 33 years after the tragedy occurred.

Pearl Harbor, the atrocity that sent Ben Affleck on a downward spiral toward Gigli, came out 60 years after the bombing.

Even Chapter 27, a pending movie about the assassination of John Lennon which features Jared Leto as Mark David Chapman is set to release in 2007, 27 years after Lennon’s murder.

As I was thinking about all of this, the lights began to dim in the movie theater, and the previews began. The screen went to black before panning in on a rotating radar.

The voices of the controllers described an all-too-famaliar scene, which has been replayed numerous times for the past few years. Panicked passengers scream and call their loved ones to tell them what’s going on. The plane began to drastically change its course on the screen, and the following message appeared:

“9.11.2001. 40 ordinary people sat down as strangers, and stood up as one.”

My jaw dropped, and it hit me like the stomach flu on an expensive cruise ship.

Oh my God. They’re making a Sept. 11 movie.

Entitled Flight 93, the movie focuses specifically on the flight which crash-landed outside of Shanksville, Penn.

The movie’s official Web site, www.flight93.net, attempts to conjure up some absolutely ludicrous rationale for making this movie:

“As 2006 marks the passing of five years since the epochal events of 9-11, the time has come for contemporary cinema’s leading filmmakers to dramatically investigate the events of that day, its causes and its consequences.”

I’m going to give you guys a little while to let that sink in.

If you go by the moral compass of director Paul Greengrass, the film’s director, it looks like five years is the right amount of time to turn a national tragedy into a Hollywood blockbuster.

The Web site continues to defend the movie’s cause:

Flight 93 intends to dignify the memory of those on that flight, the men and women whose sacrifice remains one of the most heroic legacies of the incomprehensible tragedies that unfolded on that autumn morning.

And how do you suppose Greengrass is going to “dignify” the memories of Flight 93’s victims? By publicly displaying a gross interpretation of the events of Sept. 11 all over again! Families who lost a loved one are going to go through the motions of losing them all over again, as Hollywood trivializes a significant loss of human life while the event still remains fresh in our minds.

Flight 93 will be released on April 28. If you go see this movie, you are only encouraging a possible Hollywood trend in movies that would let directors think that it is acceptable to create films about significant tragedies shortly after they occur.

Don’t support this trend. Just don’t.

Ben Breier is a junior magazine journalism major and the assistant ALL editor for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].