I still remember with gut-wrenching clarity watching the events of 9/11 unfold live on TV on that fateful day back in 2001. I was on maternity leave, Sophie - who was just a few weeks old - was sleeping peacefully in her baby seat at my feet and I was catching up with a group of online friends, many of them Americans, in a yahoo chat room. It was heart-breaking watching the increasingly desperate messages go by as many of them realised they had a loved-one working or living in the neighbourhood, trying (in vain, as the phone network crashed) to get in touch with them, then seeing the dramatic events unfold. They understood the scale of the destruction way before I did. It wasn't until much later that I realised that one of my old house mates from uni, who had moved to New York and become a paramedic, was in the second tower when it came crashing down. Miraculously, he survived but many of his colleagues didn't.
As a teacher - not just of the English language but also the culture and history of the English-speaking world - I take a few moments every 11th September to mention the tragedy in class and explain briefly what happened. I'm always slightly shocked and unsettled when the kids ask to see the "funny videos" on youtube of the people jumping out of the skyscrapers. I can't hold it against them. To put it in perspective, when I watch the images of JFK being shot, it all seems so far in the past and unrelated to my life because I wasn't even born that the horror totally passes me by and it's more like watching a TV drama. That's exactly the same for the kids I teach - it's ancient history to them and they don't think about the impact and horror of those images.
Well, this year, I will definitely be showing them Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. While we've all seen the harrowing stories of those who escaped or lost their lives in the towers and hijacked aircraft that day, this film follows the destiny of those left behind. 9-year-old Oskar is the son of one of the "jumpers" (played by Tom Hanks), left to put back together the pieces of his shattered life with mum (Sandra Bullock).
Oskar had an incredibly close bond with his father so, when he finds a key in a vase in his belongings, he is convinced that his father has left him one last challenge. He sets off on a journey of discovery and self-discovery across New York, trying to find the lock that the key fits and, in the process, any last traces of his father.
It's a poignant tale so don't forget your tissues ! While the film focuses on the strong bond between father and son, there's a lovely moment near the end when you realise that Sandra Bullock, despite taking a back seat, has been proving the strength of maternal love too.
I'm sure the kids at school won't really appreciate theemotional impact but it will make them realise what lies behind those "funny images" on youtube.
star rating : 4.5/5
RRP : £11.36 on amazon
- DVD Release Date: 11 Jun 2012
- Run Time: 124 minutes
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