October 19, 2009

The Passionate Eye

The date rolled by this year without so much as a second thought from me. The horror of what happened on Sept. 11/2001 now displaced amongst news blurbs, the shitty "9/11" pseudo-pun, the massive amount of conspiracy speculation. Kind of bothers me how my weariness of rhetoric also makes me callous.

Last night, 102 Minutes That Changed the World (also known as 102 Minutes That Changed America) played on CBC's The Passionate Eye. If ever there is a reason to keep CBC alive, it's The Passionate Eye. That and Rick Mercer.

The "102 Minute..." documentary covered the events of Sept. 11 from the impact of the first jet into the World Trade Center, to the collapse of the last remaining tower--almost entirely from raw footage gathered from over 100 sources. No commentary from imbecilic news reporters, no manipulative agenda (that I could see). Just the events cobbled together from personal videos, phone videos, sound bites, phone calls, CB radio between firefighters and central hubs etc.

Watching it I felt like I was being repeatedly kicked in the balls. The footage (some not seen anywhere else) made me queasy: a mother behind the camera, telling her kids to go lie down in the other room while her and her husband watch out their windows, as the buildings fall a few miles away. Young adults--about the same distance away, though in a different direction--musing at what we know to be people leaping to their deaths from 80 odd floors up. They could be chairs, they must be chairs. And then, mid-sentence, the second jet hits, windows rattle, the people in the apartment scream, the camera's scope fills with fire.

Another moment--this one a sound clip--has a dispatch operator telling a lady who's managed to get through on her cell phone to stay put. Help is coming, don't go down the stairs, they may not be safe. The woman, so close to panic but trying to stay positive, talks of injured people, smoke. Break a window if you have to, she's told.

The entire time I watched, and listened, I thought any other context and this shit would be entertainment, right? I mean, we'd pay money to watch a movie like this, its drama and horror and unresolved pathos. Yet because I know this actually happened, two months after I got married, and my first day back to college after 4 years--the irony is weighed down with a certain gravity--which may be nothing more than proximity, really. A crude form of self-concern? How odd.

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