“We have some planes …”

Much has been written and produced about the World Trade Center these last seven years, but the works below take the fullest measure of the tragedy’s impact on the world, and on us

Reflecting Absence (2004-2011) Intended to be the national memorial to 9/11, Michael Arad’s controversial Reflecting Absence attempts to subsume the World Trade Center’s destruction by placing two square pools (which match the footprints of the towers) into a forest-like park. The somber, still and largely subterranean memorial may match in quiet dignity both the mammoth ambition of the buildings and the tragedy of their fall. The memorial will reportedly cost $1 billion to build, nearly as much as was needed to erect the twin towers themselves.–T.R. Witcher

The 9/11 Commission Report (2004)

The 9/11 Commission Report (2004)No one was shooting for art here, but from the opening sentences it’s clear that The 9/11 Commission Report, for all its other merits—its dense historical background, its seriousness, its comprehensiveness—also makes for a gripping read. In this case, the truth is much more arresting than fiction. –TRW

“The Falling Man” (2003) Esquire writer Tom Junod conducted a thoughtful, humane exploration of the reality behind an iconic 9/11 image: a jumper from one of the burning towers arrowing—serenely, it appears—toward the ground. “Well, I thought I would find out who the Falling Man was, I guess,” Junod tells the Weekly. “I mean, that was the complaint inherent in all the complaints about Richard Drew’s photograph in the first place—that, surely, someone had to know who it was; that, surely, this man had a family, had friends, and that they would all be able to recognize him. And, for all I know, that was—and remains—true. It’s very possible that there is a family somewhere that knows exactly what its loved one looked like as he fell to the earth. But I doubt it. Not only because I looked for that family and couldn’t find it. But because the story became a story about how difficult it was for anyone and everyone to embrace that image—from families to the culture at large. And so it became a story about the uneasiness of our embrace of 9/11 itself. I mean, I already knew that the culture had rejected the image of the Falling Man. But what surprised me was the degree to which families and individuals had rejected it, too. That’s why I ended with the idea of the man in the picture falling into the arms of God. It wasn’t just high-flown rhetoric. It was that, at the time, the Falling Man had no other takers.”–Scott Dickensheets

United 93 (2006)

United 93 (2006) Paul Greengrass’ excruciatingly realistic re-creation of the events on the titular flight, which crashed into the Pennsylvania countryside on 9/11, is very hard to watch but unsparing and respectful in its account of everyday heroism. In seeking only to recount and not to analyze, it achieves a certain cathartic power. –Josh Bell

24 (2001-present) The events of 9/11 never get explicitly mentioned on this show, but they clearly inform the ruthless and unyielding way that Kiefer Sutherland’s government agent Jack Bauer pursues, interrogates and occasionally tortures terrorists. He always gets what he’s after in the end, making the show a comfortable fantasy for people who can’t handle the uncertainty of real-world terrorism. –JB

Falling Man (2007)Don DeLillo takes the structure and political issues of the attacks—capital, our society of spectacle, the eroticization of violence—and brings them down to the sentence level. His characters make their way north, out of Ground Zero, borne along by gorgeously disembodied sentences. There is no before and after in this novel, just now—it is unlikely another book will recapture the trauma of that day so well. –John Freeman

Ex Machina (2004-present)

Ex Machina (2004-present)Brian K. Vaughan and Tony Harris’ comic-book series about the superhero mayor of New York City successfully balances politics and superheroics, especially in the crowning moment of its first issue, which reveals a single World Trade Center tower still standing, thanks to the main character having stopped the second plane before it hit. –JB

Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004) Liberal raconteur Michael Moore doesn’t always play fair with his viewers, but in this frequently funny satire of the Alice in Wonderland-like world that we’ve been living in during the Bush years, he makes a convincing case that the men and women who’ve conducted American foreign policy post-9/11 haven’t been playing fair with us, either.–TRW

Inside Man (2006)

25th Hour and Inside Man (2002, 2006) These two films from Spike Lee evoke post-disaster New York. In 25th Hour, Edward Norton faces one last night of freedom before heading to prison, and Lee’s footage of Ground Zero is charged with an almost holy sadness. In Inside Man, the story of a bank heist, Lee restores the beating heart of lower Manhattan, by setting its diverse citizens against the increased police powers of the state. –TRW

Team America: World Police (2004)

Team America: World Police (2004) After saving France (who opposed our country’s 2003 invasion of Iraq) from Osama bin Laden and his weapon of mass destruction, the “World Police,” outfitted in red, white and blue, attempt to prevent a massive worldwide terrorist attack equal to “9/11 times one hundred.” A rallying theme song, “America, Fuck Yeah” (“Comin’ again to save the motherfuckin’ day, yeah!”) and all-marionette cast sweeten this biting criticism of a country’s fervent patriotism and willful ignorance. –Benjamen Purvis

“Makeshift Patriot,” Sage Francis (2003) This incisive screed channels Chuck D and Bill Maher with verse after verse of relevant commentary. “While a cameraman creates news and shoves it down our throats on the West Bank/With a 10-second clip put on constant loop to provoke U.S. angst/So get your tanks and load your guns and hold your sons in a family huddle /’Cause even if we win this tug of war and even the score, humanity struggles.” –Damon Hodge

“Self Evident,” Ani DiFranco (2002) From the double live album So Much Shouting, So Much Laughter comes this nine-minute, eleven-second rant on the shock, and the aftermath, of 9/11. Our warmongering, foreign oil-slurping government’s failure to understand a “lesson in retribution” plays out over spacey guitar, jazzy horns and a hypnotic bass groove. –Ryan Olbrysh


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