Stone celebrates 60th birthday and release of new filmThe anniversary of Sept. 11 was a somber one, but when Oliver Stone, the director of a new film about the tragedy, gave a press conference here in Seoul Friday at the close of a seven-nation tour, there was reason for joy. The day was Stone’s 60th birthday, which he celebrated here with his Korean companion (Stone called her his wife even though the two are not formally married), Chong Son Chong, and their daughter Tara.
“World Trade Center” follows two New York Port Authority police officers, Will Jimeno (Michael Pena) and John McLoughlin (Nicolas Cage), who were trapped in the rubble of the center’s concourse when the structure collapsed. The men were eventually two of only 20 survivors rescued from the rubble of the twin towers.
A 60th birthday is a milestone in Asia, and many have seen “World Trade Center” as a new step for Stone, who resisted including any political considerations in the film. But Stone insisted, “I am making the same kind of film that I have always made from the beginning of my career.”
“My stories have always been personal, even the ones you call political,” Stone said.
For example, Stone added, “‘Platoon’ was a story of just the young men who were in combat. These men do not talk about politics. We never did. We were trying to survive. The men in the hole [on 9/11] were concerned with survival and they never shared with me much thought about politics.”
“I do worry that... we have given in at least in my country to terror,” Stone said. “But on that day there was no fear. Men and women reacted at the deepest level and they were strong. It’s good to remember that.”
Stone said he made the story “as subjective as possible in the skin of these four people: the two husbands and the two wives.”
Stone also expressed his admiration for his companion’s homeland. “I’ve been to Korea before many times. I’ve always admired the strength of the people overcoming adversity,” he said. “I’m shocked frankly, [since] coming here in the 1980s and ’70s I never would have believed you if you told me that Korean cinema would have had this renaissance, which it did in the last 10 years.”
Stone said he admired two other 9/11 films; Paul Greengrass’s “United 93” and Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11,” but he didn’t think the material had been played out. Stone even floated the idea of a second film: “As I did ‘Born of the Fourth of July’ a few years after ‘Platoon,’ I think... if events allow me I would like to perhaps pursue this into another story post-9/11.”
But that film likely won’t feature a 9/11 conspiracy theory. “In this case I am not of the belief that there was [a conspiracy],” Stone said, contrasting Al Qaeda, which has never denied responsibility for the attacks, with the Kennedy assassination, where “we have a so-called perpetrator, Lee Harvey Oswald, who announces to the press very clearly, ‘I didn’t do it, I’m a patsy’ ... and he himself is killed in two days. It’s a long stretch from there to Bin Laden, who is still alive and crowing about it.”
Stone said the real “conspiracy” began after 9/11, and has taken place in public. “[9/11] was overplayed and overplayed and overplayed and it became the basis for media hysteria and vigilante lynch mob feelings.”
“So I laugh, because all you people are running around trying to find a conspiracy about 9/11, but you miss the bigger conspiracy that happened afterward, in broad daylight... the very same way Mr. Kennedy was killed in Dallas at noon.”
by Ben Applegate