Saturday, September 11, 2010

In Remembrance - The Victims of 9/11 - Never Forget

I suppose my hope is that, if nothing else, this film reminds audiences 9/11 is more than an event, that its core it was about decent, wonderful people whose lives were tragically cut short.

~Nick Osborne - Producer

Today is the 9th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. It is very important for us to remember those 2,977 lives that were cut short, some for just going to work that day, others for trying to help save as many others as they could.

Screenwriter Will Fetters was partially inspired by individual portraits that were written about some of the victims of the attack. These portraits help us to see the individuals, not the statistics. The New York Times story and the links to these portraits are linked below. Please take some time to read.

Especially on this day, please keep the victims and their families and friends in your thoughts and prayers. Honor their memory - Never Forget.

September 11: Portraits of Grief
~New York Times

Three days after the September 11 attacks, reporters at The New York Times, armed with stacks of the homemade missing-persons fliers that were papering the city, began dialing the numbers on the fliers, interviewing friends and relatives of the missing and writing brief portraits, or sketches, of their lives.

The portraits were never meant to be obituaries in any traditional sense. They were brief, informal and impressionistic, often centered on a single story or idiosyncratic detail. They were not intended to recount a person's résumé, but rather to give a snapshot of each victim's personality, of a life lived. And they were democratic; executive vice presidents and battalion chiefs appeared alongside food handlers and janitors. Each profile was roughly 200 words. In the weeks that followed the attacks, amid nonstop news coverage of the disaster and the war, reading "Portraits of Grief" became a ritual for people nationwide.

To read and to remember the lives that were lost on September 11th, please visit The New York Times portraits here :
New York Times "Portraits of Grief"

You can leave your own tribute here:
List of Victims and Tributes - World Trade Center
List of Victims and Tributes - Pentagon and Flights

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Remember Me Discussion Group

Did Ally really forget her first date with Tyler?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Tragic in Remember Me

In Jessegirl's latest article, she has written a beautiful and insightful article that looks at where Remember Me takes it's viewers beyond the the obvious and how it serves to bring us all a little closer.

-by jessegirl- September 1, 2010

Tyler reads to his hurt sister, his arm around her as she cuddles into the comfort of his love. Tyler reads about Orpheus:
“ bring the joy of music to earth. His voice rang so pure and true that the fiercest warriors put down their swords and the savage beasts lay spellbound at his feet.” And Tyler’s voice rang so pure and true...

-“D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths”, by Ingrid & Edger Parin D’Aulaire. 1962. p.101

When it comes down to it, Remember Me is a tragedy. Not in an academic sense, and I won’t go into that quagmire of definitions. You’d be bored to tears.
Let’s put it this way. Classical tragedy in a work of art usually means the hero has a tragic flaw which brings about his downfall, like Hamlet or Oedipus. And, although Tyler has many flaws, none of them contribute to his downfall. For me, tragedy always depends on human intent and actions and their consequences.

Look, we recognize tragedy. We just know it, feel it. It pierces the heart and tears at the soul. And stories are breath to us; we can’t exist without them. Tragic stories have existed from the beginning of time.

But when we cry, and we do, and we should, we do it not only for Tyler, for his bereft family, but we do it for our own losses, and then we do it for the fact of Loss. Tragedy moves from the very personal to the universal, and back again. It encompasses everything.

Remember Me is special in that it speaks to the human condition in a way few films do and all of it is wrapped in compassion. I think that’s why it appeals to me so much. In the end Remember Me is compassionate in tone. All the hard questions are raised and we discuss them and ponder them, but we do it while being wrapped in this extraordinary compassion, so that we feel bold enough to proceed. These photos are examples. Tyler is looking at his little sister with such love, even if you knew nothing else about him, you would love him too. And Caroline is basking in his affection.

If we engage fully from our own depths, the humanity will be shown to us. We ache for Diane as she attempts to keep the peace between her son and her ex at the sweets shop. We laugh with Caroline when her brother distracts her from the bullies by entertaining her with silly pseudo-French.

We pity Charles his inability to show his children that he loves them.

We are nauseous with Ally as she absorbs the shock of Tyler’s betrayal.

We know Aiden’s frustration in dealing with his reckless friend, whose behaviour in jail is scary.

After his wife’s senseless murder, we understand Neil’s need to hold his daughter too close.

And, because of the modulated performances the actors gave, we can sympathize with Les as he supports his screwed-up step family,

and Janine, who protects the tightly-controlled tycoon.

And some of us can identify with the irritated receptionist in her plight—good job, Tricia Paoluccio—powerless to defend herself from the boss’s bratty son.

But most of all, we feel everything Tyler feels. Yeah, he’s the bratty son but he’s also the loving brother. And more. We see his flaws but we see his struggles and we—most of us, anyway—sympathize and root for him. Because he is not arrogant or complacent; he tries so hard.

Tragedies are supposed to invoke pity and terror, isn’t that how it goes?
The pity I’ve already talked about. Our sympathy and compassion for the characters, the one who died and the ones who survived. And yes, those of us who bear a personal loss have a precise sorrow to deal with anew and Remember Me retrieves it and shines its bittersweet light on it. To say that this taxes the emotions is to understate. Many people have commented about their personal losses; they couldn’t help putting them out there for the world to know.
-“If you have ever grieved a loved one, you will understand this movie.” [Catherine. Bartyzel]

The terror? Well, it is, specifically, September 11th. Fear of such men. Fear of the randomness. Fear this could happen to us, to ourselves, to our loved ones, anytime.

These strong feelings Remember Me brought out of us, the pity-compassion and the terror-fear, they coalesce into an intense emotional experience. It stays with you and haunts you and it is so present and overwhelming you struggle for days and weeks later to figure it out.
-“I was in a fog, a funk, for the rest of the weekend. I couldn’t shake the mood, couldn’t shake the film. It haunted me. It still does. Can’t remember the last time a film got inside my head and stayed the way this one has.”[Jennifer L. Brevet]

-“...this film...It’s going to haunt me for a very long time. And that’s a good thing. That day isn’t something we should ever forget.”[Nikola. Bartyzel]

So you discuss it with friends—or even strangers—you email, phone, blog, comment. And the reason you cannot get it out of your head is that it got right inside your heart first.
-“I came out of the movie feeling touched and moved and so did others coming out...For the first time ever a stranger talked to me about the movie and how she felt about it.” [chasg. IMDB message board]
-“We were stunned to the point of silence when the credits were rolling. We stood outside the theatre and said a few words, but none of us was articulate enough to discuss it fully at the time...The past week we have been talking, emailing every day about it.” [Mickey. Bartyzel]

-“One of the few movies that really sticks with you and you NEED to talk about it with someone afterward.” [Chris. Bartyzel]

But figuring it out doesn’t really matter so much. What does matter is that because of this emotional experience released inside you—it is always there, waiting—there is hope of healing. You know that Tyler pushes himself in so many ways to feel intensely—Neil choking him, Neil jailing him, the fight, the guilt over Ally, the violent ‘protection’ of Caroline, provoking his father, etc. Internally, he was pushing through barriers so that he could break through to hope. It was not one grand catharsis with Tyler, but he embraced intense emotion and therefore, was able to break through and heal. Yeah, Tyler is our teacher.

So Remember Me’s release of intense feelings within us is cathartic and does what all good tragedies do. It helps heal. People who study these things use words like ‘purification’. Remember Me has this effect; it “rings pure and true”.

I have mentioned that Remember Me’s effect is particularly strong in people who have suffered personal losses. (Yet some of these are not ready for it.) But you don’t need to have experienced loss. Everyone can connect with the tragic and will cry when a movie/book character dies. The human imagination is a potent thing. You need only to imagine—as actors do, by the way. Young people who haven’t known first love still cry at Romeo and Juliet because they can imagine it all. And I think all humans are born with a sense of the tragic, recognize it, respond to it intuitively. It’s in our DNA.

In a way, Tyler’s story is the Story framed by our own personal stories. What do I mean? Well, in the broadest sense, Tyler’s arc is his journey from grieving and coping with his loss, to slowly coming back to life, to acceptance and forgiveness. It is a story with substance all on its own. But then the unthinkable happens. At just that point, where, as Allen Coulter says, “he is released from his battles”, and comes to a serene place, Tyler is murdered. Blind bad luck, or Fate, has him stand at that window.

Now because, to face the bitter truth of his story, he is annihilated, our own stories begin, only we don’t know it for a long time. Some of us return, as I have mentioned elsewhere, because, like Tyler himself at the beginning of his journey, we can not accept the unacceptable. In a strange way, Tyler is our teacher, showing us that even in his bumbling, painful and confused way, he made it. And if Tyler made it to serenity, so can we. We are led back into the film again and again, not just to see him alive again, but also to learn that if Tyler, with all his flaws, can achieve tranquility, then maybe, with all our flaws, so can we.
Do you understand?

So, if Tyler represents every one of those who lost their lives in that terrorist attack, he also represents something more universal. He represents the son you lost, the husband who died, the friend who succumbed to disease, the child you lost through miscarriage, the lover who was killed, the cousin who was raped and murdered in a genocide in a far-off country. I am saying that the meaning of Tyler’s death has escaped the confines of even such a huge event as September 11th. His personal story has become universal, really universal, as all great tragedies are.

Yes, he is the human face of the 9/11 tragedy, which is what Will wrote. But, as Coulter said: “It personalizes that tragedy in a way that, I hope, has a powerful emotional, cathartic effect on the audience that we think of really good tragedies as having.” Tyler becomes, beyond 9/11, the human face of all tragedies, of tragedy in all our lives, of Tragedy. I think this is what resonates so deeply for so many who have seen it. This doesn’t lessen the horror of 9/11 or minimize its impact in any way, because it was through the intensity of that impact that Tyler’s loss was so devastating. But it does acknowledge that such devastation is not only in 9/11, but in Rwanda, Bosnia, Hiroshima, Auschwitz, and so many other places around the world.

It is not a contest about which atrocities were worse; that would be a petty way of looking at it. It is, in the end, not about countries at all. Terrorists could be serial killers, wife abusers, or religious fanatics from any country. It is about Man’s inhumanity to Man, isn’t it?

-“It has a haunting quality and it’s one of these stories which stay with you long after, simmering slowly in your mind and starting whole trains of thought...People react strongly to it and many love it. Its greatest merit is that it makes a collective/universal tragedy humane, intimate and personal through these two families...Ultimately it goes beyond 9/11 to embrace all our lives wherever we are, all the world around, and makes us think about the fragility of life, about love and loss...[Sophie. Bartyzel]

Will, I think, meant it as a wake-up call. Do not forget. And the film has done that. But it has also called up the universal. Somehow, and I don’t know if this was intended—except Coulter’s words seem to imply that—it has, in its quiet, unassuming, almost ordinary way, become an eloquent touchstone for all losses.

This effect cannot be explained and I have remarked on it before, calling it, among other things, ‘an angel in the midst’. Oh man, I can hear the snorts of disbelief. It sounds over the top, I grant you, but for me, it suits best. It fits with what I said earlier about the film’s compassionate tone. As I write this, it occurs to me that that is the key perhaps.

Every character was wounded and flawed, yet was played sympathetically. I felt for every one of them. Other aspects of the film, the score, the cinematography, assisted with achieving this compassionate tone. You care about these people in a personal way, you adopt them, so to speak, and so their tragedy becomes your own. And, in doing that, it becomes universal. People all around the world felt this. International box office and anecdotes tell us that Remember Me touched people everywhere. Its power lies in this universality.

The terrorists didn’t hear Tyler’s voice, which “rang so pure and true”. How far from humanity did they travel in those planes, how far from Tyler’s voice? Would these ‘fierce warriors’ have ‘put down their swords’ if they had heard it? But they were deaf and blind to humanity. Had they seen Tyler’s journey, would they have stopped? Had they seen the lives of the 3000 as intimately as Tyler’s, would they have stopped?

But we must leave the terrorists to God. They will not like it at all, that reckoning, for it will be far different from the virgins they imagine. We leave them. And we follow Tyler and Janine and the others. We follow the voices that ring so pure and true. Or we are fools.

We cry. We weep, silent tears coursing down our cheeks. We sob, shaking with the pain. We lift our eyes to the sky, hoping for guidance, and only shudder for it is from the sky evil came. We lament for the many. But most of all, we remember. We love.

And at the end, having absorbed the tragic, we come to a place too deep for tears.