US cinemas pull 'harrowing' trailer for first film about 9/11

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The Independent US

The trailer for the first feature film about the events of 11 September 2001 - made by the British writer-director Paul Greengrass - has been withdrawn by a major New York cinema because it proved too harrowing for some audiences.

Reactions to the trailer in cinemas in both New York and Los Angeles - which in most cases has been a numbed silence punctuated by audible gasps - guarantees that the film, United 93, will cause controversy when it is released across the United States later this month.

"One lady was crying," Kevin Adjodha, the manager of the AMC Loews cinema on Manhattan's Upper West Side which pulled the trailer, told Newsweek magazine. "She was saying we shouldn't have [played the trailer]. That this was wrong. I don't think people are ready for this."

The film, which has been chosen to open this year's Tribeca Film Festival on 25 April in New York, is a dramatisation of events aboard the fourth hijacked plane on the day al-Qa'ida struck the US. The 40 passengers and crew on board are known to have fought to retake the aircraft which crashed in a field in Pennsylvania before it reached its target, believed to have been the White House.

Greengrass, whose recent films include The Bourne Conspiracy and Bloody Sunday, sought and won permission from all of the families of those who died on the plane and promised to donate 10 per cent of its box-office revenue in the opening three days to the memorial planned for the site of the crash in Shanksville. Among those supporting the film is Gordon Felt, whose brother Edward died on the plane. He said the film would "help permanently memorialise the bravery of the 40 passengers and crew of Flight 93 who chose to fight back".

What is not known is the public reaction to the treatment of the terror attacks. Although there have been many nods to the events of 9/11 by Hollywood, no film until now has taken them as its primary narrative. However, a made-for-TV film of the fate of the plane, called Flight 93, was shown on A&E in January, giving the cable channel its biggest ever viewer numbers.

The trailer, which drew some calls of "Too soon!" when shown at another cinema in Los Angeles, opens with shots of passengers boarding the plane at Newark airport on a bright early-autumn day.

It quickly cuts to a scene where the terrorist first moves to take control of the plane. Spliced into the trailer is real news footage of another of the hijacked aircraft crashing into the World Trade Centre.

Greengrass told Newsweek magazine that he was impressed by the support he had received from the victims' families.

"Was I surprised at the unanimity? Yes. Very. Usually there are one or two families who are more reluctant. I was surprised and humbled at the extraordinary way the United 93 families have welcomed us into their lives and shared their experiences with us."