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American Cinema in the Shadow of 9/11$
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Terence McSweeney

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781474413817

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474413817.001.0001

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Acts of Redemption and ‘The Falling Man’ Photograph in Post-9/11 US Cinema

Acts of Redemption and ‘The Falling Man’ Photograph in Post-9/11 US Cinema

Chapter:
(p.67) Chapter 3 Acts of Redemption and ‘The Falling Man’ Photograph in Post-9/11 US Cinema
Source:
American Cinema in the Shadow of 9/11
Author(s):

Guy Westwell

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474413817.003.0004

In Chapter Three "Acts of Redemption and ‘The Falling Man’ Photograph in Post-9/11 US Cinema", Guy Westwell, who has written his own monograph on the impact of the 'War on Terror' on American film, Parallel Lines: Post-9/11 Cinema (2014), takes as a starting point one of the quintessential images of the 'War on Terror' era, the photograph of the unidentified 'falling man' taken on 11 September 2001 by Richard Drew. Such has been the impact of the picture, which Mark D. Thompson described as 'perhaps the most powerful image of despair at the beginning of the twenty-first century' (63), it has been returned to in a variety of forms over the years: in art, literature, television and film. Westwell considers how the image (and the World Trade Center itself) has been co-opted by a variety of authors to function as a prism through which prevailing attitudes towards 9/11 have been projected. In a detailed analysis of two such examples, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011) and The Walk (2015), Westwell engages with questions of representation and identity, memory and trauma (both on a personal and cultural level) and argues that, as Mark Lacey suggested, American cinema in the first decades of the new millennium became "a space where 'commonsense' ideas about global politics and history are (re)-produced and where stories about what is acceptable behaviour from states and individuals are naturalised and legitimated" (614).

Keywords:   Hollywood film, 9/11, cultural trauma, New York

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