Frame By Frame: Hollywood after September 11, 2001
UNL Film Studies Professor Wheeler Winston Dixon examines how Hollywood films change after national emergencies like the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the attacks of 9/11.
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- [00:00:13.004]Hi. I'm Wheeler Winston Dixon, James Ryan professor of Film Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln,
- [00:00:18.025]and I'd like to speak for a moment on how films... when we entered World War Two, and also after 9-11...
- [00:00:25.035]how it changed the way Hollywood films were made.
- [00:00:28.044]Up until 1941, America... although people forget this... was usually very isolationist.
- [00:00:35.013]We wanted to stay out of the war. We'd been through World War One. People did not want to get involved in another war.
- [00:00:40.068]FDR... Franklin Delano Roosevelt... and Winston Churchill, of course, saw there was no way to avoid this.
- [00:00:46.071]But the American people, in general, wanted to stay out of it.
- [00:00:49.085]So, it wasn't until we were attacked on December 7, 1941... the date which will live in infamy...that we entered the war.
- [00:00:57.022]And immediately, films in Hollywood that had been mostly escapist films or action films became intensely patriotic.
- [00:01:04.097]And we had a series of very patriotic war films...
- [00:01:08.024]Also, escapist musicals...
- [00:01:10.060]Abbott and Costello rose to prominence.
- [00:01:13.037]So, we had musicals, escapist comedies and jingoistic war films...
- [00:01:17.041]Things like "A Walk in the Sun"...
- [00:01:19.014]"Gung Ho!" which is an amazing film... not the Ron Howard version... This is the Ray Enright film from 1943.
- [00:01:25.061]A CALL HAS BEEN ISSUED BY THE COMMANDING GENERAL FOR VOLUNTEERS FOR A SPECIAL BATTALION TO BE FORMED AT ONCE.
- [00:01:32.039]A lot of films to support the war effort... to say nothing of Frank Capra's "Why We Fight" series...
- [00:01:38.039]a brilliant series of documentaries using captured Nazi and Japanese footage...
- [00:01:42.080]that was run in theaters to explain to Americans why the war was necessary.
- [00:01:47.047]Flash forward to September 11th.
- [00:01:50.041]The events of September 11... As a native New Yorker, of course, when I saw that on television it just shocked me to the core.
- [00:01:57.005]Three-thousand people died for showing up for work.
- [00:02:00.016]It's one of the most horrible day's in America's history.
- [00:02:02.079]It's the 21st century's Pearl Harbor.
- [00:02:05.025]The result here was more muted and more confused,
- [00:02:09.009]because there was not really... There was Al Kieda to blame, of course, because they immediate took credit,
- [00:02:14.090]but there wasn't a country that we could go to war against. It was a very shadowy force.
- [00:02:20.027]So, it took a while for films to respond to that.
- [00:02:24.037]So, you have films like "Flight 93", which was a film about the plane that was going to attack the Pentagon,
- [00:02:31.098]and how the people on board took it down.
- [00:02:34.027]You have more recently, "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," a film starring Tom Hanks,
- [00:02:41.016]and based on a novel by Jonathon Safron Fuller.
- [00:02:44.053]But there really has yet to be a definitive film about the entire 9/11 experience.
- [00:02:50.064]It has made Hollywood films more... cautious in their depiction of terrorist activities.
- [00:02:59.068]There was a film called "Collateral Damage", for example, that starred Arnold Schwartzennegger,
- [00:03:03.081]that was shelved almost immediately.
- [00:03:06.006]And there were several other films that had plots involving terrorism that were shelved almost immediately.
- [00:03:12.072]So, people are more careful about that. Then, of course, there's "24", the television show.
- [00:03:17.019]In which the world is in perpetual crisis and only Jack Bauer can save the world, as played by Kiefer Sutherland.
- [00:03:23.033]STAND DOWN! SHE'S THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN GET US TO THE BOMB.
- [00:03:29.054]So, there's a response to 9-11 in American filmmaking, but the definitive experience has yet to be created by Hollywood
- [00:03:38.036]because, of course, the events are sill on-going, and this is an issue which still continues to confront us today.
- [00:03:44.049]I'm Wheeler Dixon, and this is Frame By Frame.
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