A screenwriter I know has passed along reactions of a New York-based friend who saw Robert Zemeckis‘ The Walk at the New York Film Festival yesterday, and who mentioned nausea and PTSD. Direct email quote: “I couldn’t take the 3-D, and the whole finale gave me motion sickness and flashbacks to seeing people falling from the twin towers. And I wasn’t alone [in this reaction].'”
Remember the “too soon” crowd who didn’t want to watch Paul Greengrass‘s United 93 when it came out nine years ago? Remember four years ago when Movieline‘s Stu Van Airsdale spoke to a guy who’d seen an early cut of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and one of his reactions was that the impressionistic recall of 9/11 horrors was “inappropriate” and “too soon”? Ten years later?
Some New Yorkers will never get over that day no matter what, but The Walk doesn’t do anything, really, except show the twin towers from all kinds of angles for the last 25 or so minutes. There are no summonings of nightmares.
And yet The Walk could have been a bit more delicate. One of the things that James Marsh‘s Man On Wire got right and The Walk gets wrong is that Marsh didn’t lift a finger to allude to the WTC’s ultimate fate. He knew he didn’t have to. But at the very end of The Walk Zemeckis has Joseph Gordon Levitt talk about a special visitor pass to the observation deck of the WTC and how the official who gave it to him had crossed out the expiration date and written “forever.”
That would have been more than enough, but then Zemeckis has to pan his camera over and focus on the towers (which look kinda painted rather than real) for 20 or 25 seconds and have them gradually fade into darkness. I realize that American audiences seem to like emphasis and a lack of restraint. I realize that a lot of people are going to be touched by this final moment. And that you can’t tell people that it’s better to undersell, that less is always more. People like what they like. There’s no accounting for taste.