erik lundegaard

Eleven Years Ago

The World Trade Center in Julian Schnabel's "Before Night Falls" (2000)

“Before 9/11, the World Trade Center was never particularly beloved. 'A standing monument to architectural boredom,' said one critic in the early 1970s. 'Two huge buck teeth' blighting the Manhattan skyline, said Norman Mailer. Earlier skyscrapers tended to end like church spires, pointing towards the heavens—the Empire State Building is even called 'The Cathedral of the Skies'—but tapering means losing valuable real estate. Thus modern skyscrapers’ blocky shape. The World Trade towers pointed at nothing. They just stood there.

”The towers came to represent not architectural beauty like the Empire State Building, nor the liberty of the Statue, but blunt financial power. 'Greed is good,' Gordon Gekko famously says in Oliver Stone’s 'Wall Street,' and so the film begins with morning shots of the Manhattan skyline, with the World Trade Center front and center. 'I have a head for business and a bod for sin,' Tess McGill says in Mike Nichols’ 'Working Girl,' but this is a feel-good movie, and so in the single-shot opening, the focus is on another working girl, the Statue of Liberty, who gets her 360-degree close-up. The twin towers are once again relegated to the background.

“Now those very background shots take our breath away. God, the World Trade Center towered, didn’t it? It towered over even New York City, which towers over the world. Other cities have one tall building, but only New York, New York, the town so nice they named it twice, had the audacity to throw up two. Now that they’re gone, the skyline doesn’t look the same. Now that the buck teeth have been knocked out, we keep probing their absence with our tongue.”

--from “Remembering the World Trade Center: How the World Trade Center was portrayed in movies before 9/11; how it’s been portrayed since,” which I wrote for MSNBC in August 2006. The above shot is from Julian Schnabel's “Before Night Falls,” starring Javier Bardem, and released in 2000. Patricia and I watched it again in late August. The WTC snuck up on us in the background. It took our breath away.

For a more extensive list of movies featuring the World Trade Center ...

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Posted at 06:32 AM on Tue. Sep 11, 2012 in category Photo of the Day  
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