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The Reeler Blog

Hoax Hoopla: Whither the Twin Towers?

In the place of Screening Gotham, for whose omission this morning I am awfully sorry but which I swear could not be avoided (and whose absence I hope did not whipsaw your day into news-drought catatonia; you found appropriate talking points to substitute, yes?), I humbly submit this great item by Jeff Wells. The Hollywood Elsewhere blogger actually called The Hoax's producer and visual effects providers to find out why there are no shots of the World Trade Center's twin towers in director Lasse Hallström's panorama of early-'70s Lower Manhattan -- which I imagine I probably would have done myself if I could get away from this desk long enough to see the movie:

I tried reaching Hoax producer Mark Gordon ... but it took the better part of a day just to get Gordon's publicist's number -- the subliminal message seemed to be "please leave us alone." So I called Mark Dornfeld at Custom Film Effects, the company that delivered most of The Hoax's CG visuals.
Dornfeld, amiable and easy-going, said "there was no discussion" about pasting in the towers -- "it never came up" -- but suggested that people should cut Hallström a break because "he's not a native." How much would it have cost if Hallström or Gordon had wanted Dornfeld to paste in the towers? "Ohh, I'd say maybe, let's say, $3,500 to $4,000. We're talking about pasting in a still image into a static shot, and it doesn't have to be too distinct because there's a lot of haze in the distance of lower Manhattan anyway, so....yeah, $3,500 to $4,000."

Indeed, as a Swedish tranplant, Hallström has the privilege of botching American period detail all he wants, particularly those involving New York's most hallowed architectural icon of the last 50 years. And God knows $3,500 to $4,000 is a little rich for anyone's blood over at Miramax, especially on a film in which Westchester County is substituted for Ibiza, Spain. Wells, however, wants no excuses -- "amiable and easy-going" or otherwise -- and is calling for historical accuracy at any financial or emotional cost. His commenters, typically garrulous and more than a little encyclopedia-challenged, have their own impressions. I welcome your own impressions here: Should we let The Hoax off the hook?

Posted at March 21, 2007 3:42 PM

Comments (2)

This is not the sort of thing that I generally get worked up about, but checking out pictures like this:
http://www.projectrebirth.org/rebuild/tourGZero/wtc/1971.html
it seems kind of absurd that they left the towers out. If you are making a period film it is pretty essential to establish the period, right? What detail could possibly make an audience associate the story with the early 70's in NY than seeing the WTC under construction in the distance? I'm sure money wasn't the issue--I bet they spent more than $4000 on the guy whose job it was to make Richard Gere's Man Tan look like vintage 70's fake bronze. And does anyone actually believe that NO ONE on set noticed the absence of the towers as they were setting up that shot and doing post? Was the whole crew flown over from Stockholm the night before the shoot? Obviously it was intentional--either an artistic choice (not wanting to distract the audience) or just some lame attempt to be sensitive about the issue. Right?

Give me a break, and give him a break. If this were even three years earlier, and they had added the towers, this would have been a discussion of "Is it TOO SOON to have the Towers in the movie ? " - I remember this exact discussion when Spider Man came out and they was a move to take the towers out of the movie !

Its something you can't win - and yes it is not historically accurate to have a skyline without them. But if it was any other building we wouldnt be having this conversation.... Point being, it's his movie.

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