So how does Oliver Stone feel about the way the culture has changed between his World Trade Center theatrical premiere last summer and its DVD release this week? ”I always felt like when we came out in August, everything was being politicized. The movie was often judged in the context of where I was politically, or whether I’d become more conservative, which I felt was completely beside the point,” says the invariably outspoken director of his film, which is now garnering Oscar talk. ”Now I feel like the Democrats sort of broke the boil [in winning the midterm elections], got the fever blister out, so to speak. The movie returns to what it [always was] about: human beings. And that got lost in the [New York Times‘] Frank Rich kind of attacks on the movie, and that was bulls—…. This film makes you remember what it felt like to be alive on September 11 and 12, and may make you think about where we are now. Some people think we overreacted, and got ourselves into a deeper mess, which is what the terrorists wanted. We compounded the problems, you could say.”
Stone has paid attention to other recent portrayals of the 9/11 assaults. ”The Path to 9/11 TV movie — it was an amazing four hours of television. They may have made [factual] mistakes, but you don’t see that [sort of behind-the-scenes drama] on television very frequently.” So he feels The Path to 9/11 was a victim of nit-picking? ”Yeah. It becomes like [Colin Farrell’s much-derided] wig in Alexander; it just goes on and on and on until the tail wags the dog, you know?”
In fact, Stone is working with Path to 9/11 screenwriter Cyrus Nowrasteh on a draft of what may be Stone’s next directorial effort, an adaptation of Gary Berntsen’s memoir Jawbreaker. ”That’s a true story and amazing story of how the war [in Afghanistan] was fought on the ground, not in the air.”
As for World Trade Center, Stone notes that he’s glad it showed a calmer, more nuanced side of actor Nicolas Cage. ”People in the street tell me it’s made them look at Cage in a way they’ve never seen him before.” It almost makes you wish Cage’s next release wasn’t a return to his wild side: Ghost Rider.
”Hey!” says Stone, laughing loudly. ”I liked those comics — they’re insane!”