Each issue, RSL offers up that perennial internet favourite: the themed list. For this issue, we take a look at some films inspired by the events of 9 September 2011 and the war on terror…
The Hurt Locker (2008)
Based on the accounts of screenwriter Mark Boal, a journalist who spent two weeks embedded with an American bomb squad in the war in Iraq during 2004, The Hurt Locker portrays a group of elite soldiers as they carry out this most dangerous of jobs – diffusing explosive devices. Directed by Kathryn Bigelow (more from her later) and shot documentary-style, the film manages to capture both the monotony and the adrenaline rush of war.
Green Zone (2010)
Directed by Paul Greengrass (more from him later), this tells the story of a US Army officer hunting for those elusive Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq during 2003. Matt Damon stars as Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller, who is based on Chief Warrant Officer Richard Gonzales. Miller’s real-life counterpart worked as one of the film’s military advisors and many of the soldiers featured were actual military personnel. The film is based on the 2006 non-fiction book Imperial Life in the Emerald City by Rajiv Chandrasekaran.
Kajaki is based on the true story of a three-man patrol of British soldiers positioned near Afghanistan’s Kajaki dam in 2006. When one of the unit steps on a mine, each of the men is faced with the threat of death or injury as they undertake a dramatic rescue. Directed by Paul Katis and written by Tom Williams, this harrowing tale of bravery and heroism has been named as a candidate for the title ‘best British war film’.
Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
Reuniting the director and writer of The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal), ZDT chronicles the decade-long hunt for Osama bin Laden after the September 2001 attacks and his subsequent death at the hands of the Navy SEALs in 2011. Criticised in some quarters for its stance on torture, or lack thereof, the film focuses on a CIA operative who is single-minded in her pursuit of Bin Laden.
United 93 (2006)
Directed by Paul Greengrass, this is a real time account of the events on United Flight 93, one of four planes hijacked on 9/11. While the others reached their intended targets, passengers on U93 defeated the terrorists, causing the plane to crash near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Some of the airline personnel roles were filled by actual airline employees, and, according to the filmmakers, the families of those onboard the doomed flight co-operated with the film. This is also the first Hollywood release that takes its narrative directly from the 9/11 attacks.
Next time around, we complete our Scorsese-themed issue with a run-down of his best true-life inspired films.
Issue 7 of RSL is out on 17 August.