Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—M|W 9|11 (2011) ****

NR, 1 min.
Director: James Kelly

This image is not from the film “M|W 9|11”. Image courtesy of fabuloussavers.com
I don’t believe there will be a year when September 11 is not a painful day. It is a day we all feel the need to reach out to each other and let each other know that we remember the horrors that occurred in 2001. It was the day the Towers fell, the day we seem to have lost our final innocence. Perhaps, that’s too dramatic. Innocence is something born into the world every day. However, even kids who weren’t yet born on that fateful day seem to have some knowledge of it and the darkness it cast over our nation.

Cinema has been one of the primary contributors to our ongoing memory of that day. Many movies have been made in honor of the fallen citizens and heroes of that day. We seem to yearn for more understanding and catharsis over those events, even more than a decade later. It might’ve seemed a year ago that once we got past the 10-year mark, we might be able to let go just a little. But, the day is here again, and again we yearn for that understanding.

Some movies can still be too much for some. I know people who have promised never to watch Paul Greengrass’s excellent film “United 93”, for good reason. Many still are unaware that Oliver Stone made a wonderful movie titled “World Trade Center” about two of the firemen who went into the Towers that day. But, that one too, is pretty tough to take. And then, there are the numerous documentaries made about that day’s events. Some are impressionistic, some are factual countdowns. All are hard to absorb even to this day.

Perhaps then, a better way to observe and understand this historic date is through short film. “M|W 9|11” is the shortest film I’ve ever featured on this blog. James Kelly’s animated film is only one minute in length, yet it so succinctly captures what is perhaps most important about that day. In 60 seconds it captures the panic and surprise. It covers the patience and shock of the people trapped within the Towers. I’m chilled when I see the figure leave the line of observers watching the flames outside the window to follow the planned escape route only to be stopped in a line of people also trying to escape.

It also shows that 9/11 started just like every other day for its victims, just as it did for all of us who remember. I’ll never forget how strange it was to be going off to work and then hearing over the radio an historical even I would never forget. It didn’t seem right that such tragedy was occurring while I was going about my regular routine. With the cliché office moments that open his brief film, Kelly shows us that it must’ve been much the same for the victims in the Towers.

Finally, Kelly closes his film on a moment that taps into all of our hearts. The man fights against the flow of the escape, dooming himself to death, to meet up with a woman. She turns to reveal she’s pregnant. I’m sorry if I’m spoiling here, but the movie is only one minute long. They accept their fate as a family. I’m still not sure why this image digs so deep. The pregnancy makes them a family. It makes their loss greater. Maybe even more so it makes our loss greater. We didn’t only lose the people who were in the Towers that day. We lost who they would become. We lost the children they would create. Their families who did survive lost them, and possibly further generations of their own family. As the greater American family we all lost them. Somehow, Kelly finds just the right image to end with to convey all of this and more. All of this in only a minute. All of that was lost in even less.

Watch James Kelly’s short film below. It will only take a minute.

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