"This is not a political film," he insists. "The mantra is 'This is not a political film.' Why can't I stay on message for once in a while? Why do I have to take detours all the time?"This is a high-budget movie, and the people backing this film have got to have looked closely at why "United 93" was so well received. Their choices about how to present the Oliver Stone movie seem obviously informed by what allowed people to accept that earlier 9/11 movie, which was to look straightforwardly factual and to focus on common people portrayed as heroes. Stone's own words --"The mantra is..." "the mantra they handed me" -- reveal that he's under compulsion not to express his actual feelings. I assume it is all very political for him, but he must keep saying -- even while winking -- that it's not a political film.
He said he just wants to depict the plain facts of what happened on Sept. 11. "It seems to me that the event was mythologized by both political sides, into something that they used for political gain," he says. "And I think one of the benefits of this movie is that it reminds us of what actually happened that day, in a very realistic sense."
"We show people being killed, and we show people who are not killed, and the fine line that divides them," he continues. "How many men saved those two lives? Hundreds. These guys went into that twisted mass, and it very clearly could've fallen down on them, and struggled all night for hours to get them out."
By contrast Paul Haggis is directing the adaptation of Richard Clarke's book on the causes of 9/11, "Against All Enemies," for the producer John Calley and Columbia Pictures.
Asked if that weren't the kind of film he might once have tried to tackle, Mr. Stone first scoffs: "I couldn't do it. I'd be burned alive." Then he adds: "This is not a political film. That's the mantra they handed me."
The real, idiotically blind and self-regarding Stone comes out in the way he talks about what would have happened to him if he'd tried to do a film like "Against All Enemies": "I couldn't do it. I'd be burned alive." That's such a bad metaphor when you're in the middle of talking about a movie about the World Trade Center.