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Patriot Movies

Evan Davis, Staff Writer

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National tragedies leave a mark on our nation and bring us together in times of great loss. Many people question whether it is appropriate to make movies depicting tragedies such as 9/11 and The Boston Bombing. Every filmmaker who is tackling traumatic events should have an objective beyond simply making a blockbuster film. Documentaries and dramatic portrayals need to be respectful of the people directly and indirectly affected by these events. The hope is that the filmmaker is committed to educating the audience as well as honoring the victims, survivors and their loved ones. If the film is depicted correctly, it will be realistic and sensitive rather than a sensationalized epic tale.
Movies about national tragedies should tell important stories, and help people heal together. Documentaries and dramatic retellings attempt to do this in very different ways. Documentaries do a great job of presenting facts in an objective manner. Dramatic retellings of tragic events do a better job of showing the human condition. They often include the layers of physical and emotional toll endured by people and communities affected.
911 is a recently released movie starring Charlie Sheen. It depicts a group of fictional people that were trapped in an elevator in one of the twin towers in New York City on September 11, 2001. 911 fails on several basic levels; extremely poor quality, acting, and character development. It’s insensitive that 911 isn’t based on real people, but rather a fictionalized group of characters. In the trailer, actors and actresses mention what it would feel like to be put in the high stress situation of being trapped in an elevator, but that’s all the film is: a series of “what ifs” that brings no new insight to 9/11. The tragic event is used as a reason to see the movie rather than a key emotional component. The movie leaves viewers feeling insulted and disrespected.
On the other hand, Patriots Day is a more realistic portrayal of the traumatic Boston Bombing. Released in January of this year, Patriots Day is a depicts the events occurring before, during, and after the Boston Bombing. In the span of this time, it shows real people that were affected by the bombing. This method honors victims, survivors, and emergency responders giving them a face to match their stories. It also delves into the lives of the terrorists who set of the bomb and exposes the human side of each brother.
The difficult task Patriots Day must accomplish is evident. The director, Peter Berg, must properly honor the real people involved while at the same time create a movie that will have mass appeal. Mark Wahlberg plays Tommy Saunders, a Boston police officer, who is present all along; from the bombing, to the capture of the lone brother. Tommy Saunders is not a real person, but he is used to piece perspectives together from multiple police officers throughout the entire journey. On one hand the character of Tommy Saunders is beneficially used to tell the story of many police officers and other responders present during the bombing. On the other hand Mark Wahlberg was chosen due to his wide fame and the revenue he’ll bring Patriots Day.
Patriots Day educated its audience by focusing on why the event occurred and successfully chronicled the Boston bombing through real life emotional backstories. Its release came at an appropriate time. There’s been enough time for people to reflect on the Boston Bombing, but it came soon enough after to add to the conversation.
Conversely, movies about tragic events can be released too late. The Rwandan Genocide took place from April, 1994 to July of the same year. This tragic event was unknown to many Americans due to the limited national media attention that it received. 10 years after the Rwandan Genocide, Hotel Rwanda, based on a real story, was released. If this story came out earlier when the genocide was more prevalent, it could have reached and educated more people.
While the timing of these movies is important, all that really matters is that movies covering tragic and disturbing events are done with the right intentions. These moves will not garner support if they are insensitive and not respectful to the victims and survivors of the tragedy.

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