Sunday, August 13, 2006

Sometimes people surprise you.

I don't know what I was expecting when I went to a 7pm showing of Oliver Stone's World Trade Center at the local Lincolnton 8-plex tonight. I was thinking more about the film and its possible impact on me, and less about the response from the people around me.

There were less than a dozen people in the theater. I don't think that's a reflection on Lincolnton's appetite for the subject matter. It's more a reflection on the fact that people don't go to the movies on a Sunday night. There were probably 15 cars total in the parking lot.

Before I continue, I will take a moment to say this: the film is excellent. I don't think it is gratuitous in any way as Mr. Stone has avoided showing much of the direct events (i.e. the planes hitting the towers)and instead focuses on how lives were impacted that day. It is also a story of hope. And while more people perished than survived, the 20 men and women pulled alive from the rubble are a symbol to me of everything that is right in this world.

So why was I surprised? Well, for starters, at the end of the film, the audience clapped. I didn't. But I was surprised that others did. To me, clapping at the end of a film seems like such a NYC thing to do. Maybe that's because most of the movies I've seen in my life have been seen in NYC and I have no frame of reference. Maybe they clap at good movies everywhere. I don't know. All I know is that it surprised me.

The next surprise came as the majority of the audience stayed seated through the credits. There were no funny outtakes. No post-credit surprise scenes a la Shrek 2. Just white text on a black screen rolling along to the solemn strains of a cello (or maybe it's a violin. You think being married to a musician I'd know the difference by now). Again, sitting through the credits is a very NYC (or LA) thing to do. I might not have noticed it but Rick made a comment (and he sees most of his movies in Houston).

I suppose these acts tonight demonstrate that what happened on September 11th affected everyone - even those who might not have witnessed those terrible events first hand. Those who didn't hear the explosions. Or see the towers crumble in front of their very eyes. Those who didn't breathe in rubble. Or smell the acrid stench that blanketed New York the next day.

Men and women who were safe in the cloistered environs of Lincolnton, NC were still deeply affected. And 5 years later, watching the story of 2 brave men unfold on screen, they responded with the same visceral emotion as someone who was there to experience the horror firsthand.

The again, perhaps I shouldn't have been so surprised. After all, if the events of September 11th did anything, it was to unite us all together as Americans.

And that's a Country I am proud to be part of.