Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Remembering the World Trade Center

Disbelief. Faces looking up at the World Trade Center.

There he was, Philippe Petit, entertaining the crowd, performing a tightwire act above the plaza, way above the plaza, a quarter of a mile above the plaza between the tops of the twin towers. In so doing, Phillippe humanized the brand new towers. Here's Phillippe's story on YouTube, as written by Mordicai Gerstein, and here's an interview with Mordicai Gerstein on the NewsHour.

Fast forward 27 years. Two brothers, Jules and Gedeon Naudet, witnessed the 911 Massacre like no other filmmakers. They were doing a documentary on a rookie fireman with Ladder Company 1 when Jules happened to point his camera at Tower 1 as the first plane hit. He then went to the scene, into the lobby of Tower 1, camera still rolling, as firefighters struggled to rescue what lives they could amid the chaos, human bodies loudly crashing on the plaza outside. Jules was still in the lobby when Tower 2 collapsed.

The Naudet brothers' film gives us 911 writ small, in human dimensions, up close, in real time. The enormity of the event itself can dehumanize what happened when cameras are distant, as most were.

Their film is available at Amazon .

Here's a snippet of the French version of their film showing the lobby of Tower 1.

Update (Aug 1, 2007):
Here's a wonderful documentary on Philippe Petit's feat.

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