(Writing at 35,000 feet somewhere over the USA at 1:30PM Eastern time on Thursday)
(WARNING: Potential Spoilers are included in this post)
Yesterday before we left for our California/Mexico cruise adventure, PatriotPartner and I decided to see Steven Spielberg?s ?War of the Worlds? on opening day. I?m not really sure what prompted us to do so since we are usually the ?wait to see it on DVD? guys in the neighborhood. But we both had taken the day off of work and figured it wouldn?t be too crowded at the 3:30PM showing?.luckily we were correct.
Earlier in the day I had read the Washington Post?s Stephen Hunter’s review of the new movie. The idea of seeing an action-packed summer movie in the spirit of ?Raiders of the Lost Ark? suddenly appealed to me on a hot and humid summer day. It also served as a way to procrastinate from the dreaded job of packing for our trip.
Within the first 30 minutes of the incredible film, it was quite apparent to me that I was witnessing something I have been longing for during the past three years ? a good, nail-biting movie that truly captures America after September 11th. Far too many months have gone by since we were attacked and since our men and women have been fighting the global terror threat for Hollywood to have kept up its fa?ade that 9/11 did not happen.
Spielberg meets the challenge head-on in his gripping tale of a family fighting for survival as aliens decimate the world as we know it. And I emerged from the theatre wondering if the famed liberal director is a closet Republican, or at least a true September 12th Democrat in the spirit of FDR, Truman and Kennedy.
Now, let me acknowledge that there is a Tim Robbins cameo scene in the last third of the movie where the rabid liberal actor rants about the ?occupiers,? how ?no one has ever won a war of occupation,? and about wanting to do what he could from ?underground? to repel them from the country he loves. A sympathetic speech showing the Iraqi insurgency?s perspective on things? Perhaps.
But I?m not sure that it was any more than Spielberg?s way of highlighting that particular point of view among many others; and one that I?m sure many Americans would hold if our shores were invaded from above or from beyond the shoreline. The big difference is, of course, that American troops went to Iraq for regime change and to free a people from a dictator; the aliens come to Earth for our extermination.
However, the themes of our Post-9/11 America ring throughout the visually spectacular film. The most striking is how Spielberg has masterfully written the characterizations of Tom Cruise and his son and daughter to represent an interesting cross-section of Americans in the hours after the Towers fell.
Cruise plays Ray, the hard-working father who, covered in dust and ash, returns home after witnessing catastrophic carnage that has him in shock. His first instinctual emotion is denial as he tells his children ?everything will be fine.? It is partly to shield them from the holocaust, but also partly because he can?t believe what he has seen. He even jumps at the touch of his own daughter when she is merely trying to understand what has happened. We were all Ray that day in 2001.
Ray also embodies every civilized parent?s desire for their children?s survival in his exchange with the Tim Robbins character. ?It is either you or my daughter,? Ray tells the increasingly erratic Robbins. In the War on Terror?.it is us versus them. Our President took the fight into their own backyard to confront an enemy who sends out its own children clothed in vest-bombs to murder innocents.
Ray’s daughter Rachel (Dakota Fanning) plays the part of a terrified young child well ? and weren?t we all still a bit innocent even after the first plane hit the World Trade Center? (It was an accident… The air traffic controller system must be messed up…) But then the tears and screams of terror come from little Rachel as she knows her world has been turned upside down ? but she can?t quite comprehend it. ?Was it the terrorists?? she screams to her father. (On 9/11, we knew the answer after the second plane hit.)
Interestingly, in what is hard to miss as an analogy to the terrorists who mean us harm today, Spielberg has the alien ships ?buried amongst us? for years. Mechanical terror cells among us. And all they are doing is waiting for their foreign pilots to arrive to begin their wave of destruction. No one who lived through 9/11 will be able to escape the connection.
And Ray?s son Robbie (Justin Chatwin) is the impetuous but apathetic teenager of our America; a typical teen barely paying attention to the world around him until Judgment Day. He seethes with anger and wants to go to the front lines to defend his entire nation?not just his family. We were those people too ? standing with our President on the smoldering rubble of the Towers and cheering him on when he yelled back, ?Soon the whole world will hear you too?.?
Finally, we have Ray?s mechanic buddy at the auto repair shop down the block. Ray and his family have commandeered the only operating car in the neighborhood (the result of the alien attack), and he is urging his friend to join them. But this ?September 10th American? cannot see that his world has already changed. He is given a stark choice as laid out by Ray: ?Get into this car or you will die.? The friend?s sole concern is that the owner of the car will be angry if it isn?t back later in the day. The friend is vaporized seconds later as the car speeds away from the oncoming, roving slaughter.
You probably remember that much was made of the supposed anti-Bush themes in ?Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith.? That subtext was played out in the media for weeks before and after the movie?s opening. It dissipated once people actually saw the film. I wonder why there was no similar talk in advance of what could have been Hollywood?s perfect Bush-bashing movie….War of the Worlds?
Perhaps the answer is that the film does more to remind us the reality of our world than any product Hollywood has put out since 9/11. The film reminds us of the insidious creatures (cells) buried (hiding) among us who don?t want to negotiate, compromise, or sign a ?peace? treaty. They want nothing more than to destroy our way of life and large numbers of our population at the same time.
Is there any doubt of this when even TIME Magazine reveals the intent of the al-Qaeda supporters in Iraq in their interview with Iraqi terrorist ?Marwan.? (Inside the Mind of an Iraqi Suicide Bomber — TIME)
Marwan ?seems certain he is on a ?pure? path.? He also embraces the ?terrorist? label and tells TIME: ?Yes, I am a terrorist. I admit I am a terrorist. The Koran says it is the duty of Muslims to bring terror to the enemy, so being a terrorist makes me a good Muslim.?
?The most important thing is that [Allah] should let me kill many Americans.?
The only doubt about this war is in the minds of ?September 10th partisans? who still, three years later, don?t fully realize what is at stake. Unfortunately, these people dominate one political party and offer no plan to defeat our enemy ? the Islamo-Facists.
I?d like to buy Ted Kennedy, Dick Durbin and Nancy Pelosi tickets to see ?War of the Worlds? this weekend.
-Bruce (GayPatriot) – firstname.lastname@example.org