Has There Been A Great 9/11 Work Of Art? Ctd

A reader cites the original post:

"Often,” Rushdie said, “I think these great events have to rot down. Maybe another generation has to look at it.”

This is preposterous. Wouldn't you suppose art-as-catharsis has a pretty crucial role in public tragedies? Guernica was a few months after Guernica. Elie Weisel's "Night" was five years. Songs by the dozens about the Vietnam War – pro and con – were contemporary.  But cherry-pick your examples of the "definitive" artwork to a tragedy and you can always find one sufficiently long afterward.

Another writes:

I'm surprised to see none of the commentaries you've posted on 9/11 art mention Spike Lee's 2002 drama The 25th Hour. (Though, to be fair, commenters on Bryan Appleyard's original piece do). It's the story of a drug dealer named Monty on his last day before heading to prison, so it may not be directly about the events of 9/11, but it absolutely deals with the emotional aftermath of the event. 

One character's apartment has a view of Ground Zero; the camera stays fixated on the site as he talks about being unwilling to move, despite reports of unhealthy air in the area. The entire scene is a metaphor for post-9/11 despair. Later, Monty curses out the myriad cultures and ethnicities of the city, trying to blame his problems on bin Laden, Jesus, his friends, and anyone else he can think of before accepting his ownership of his problems. The film ends with Monty's father offering him an idealized vision of being a runaway – a vision of America that felt so much more impossible in the days and months following 9/11.

If you want a work of art that deals directly with 9/11, Paul Greengrass's United 93 is that work of art – a punishing, intense, visceral experience. But nothing I've seen, read, or heard since that day matches up to The 25th Hour in exploring the despair, confusion, frustration, anger, and grief myself and millions of others felt after 9/11. Any discussion of post-9/11 art that doesn't mention it is missing out.


I agree with Spielberg that it will be some time before we see a truly great 9/11 film that's actually about 9/11. But for an exploration of the societal PTSD we've suffered since 9/11, one need look no further than Chris Nolan's The Dark Knight. Fear, terror, the battle between order and chaos. The role of cruel chance. The frustration and impotency of being unable to "hit back" (see Batman and the Joker in the interrogation room…).  Allegory though it may be, I can think of no other work of the last decade that has struck as close to 9/11 as The Dark Knight. And given the changes to the political landscape we've seen since the film released in 2008, I'm dying to see what kind of mirror The Dark Knight Rises holds up next summer…