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The Left Wing Patriot

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Is Oliver Stone's World Trade Center really conspiracy-free?


If any director's qualified to shine a light on one of America's most painful periods, it's the man who bought us Platoon and JFK.

When you first get your breath back after World Trade Center however, you're struck by how unlike an Oliver Stone film it is. There's certainly controversy – just in the fact that he made it. Along with Paul Greengrass' United 93, it's guaranteed to get people talking, and the question 'is it too soon?' has dominated the airwaves since March 2006 when the first United 93 trailer was screened.

But there's nothing controversial about the content of the movie itself. Stone the conspiracy-theory wielding tormentor is markedly absent.

Or is he?

Of every haunting aspect of World Trade Center that stays with you, one doesn't seem to belong, making you believe Stone might not have left his left-wing views at home this time.

With the character of former marine Dave Karnes (Michael Shannon) – now a US Senator in real life – the movie might be the big fat joke on American foreign policy we'd expect from Stone, much like Paul Verhoeven's Starship Troopers was a scathing satire of war politics dressed up as an action blockbuster.

Watching the unfathomable on TV with work colleagues in the film, Karnes voices the line that's driven US and therefore world consensus for five years. 'Don't you people realise,' he says, 'we're at war?' Is Stone using an archetype to comment on the billions of dollars and civil liberties lost to combat 20 idiots with Stanley knives who were dead before it all started?

Striding out of his office, we later see Karnes praying in a church. Approached by the pastor, he explains that he feels compelled to join the rescue effort because God's given him a gift for helping people. Is this Stone's representation of America's belief in its unstoppable military might as a force for good, it's unshakable belief that no matter what it does, God is on its side?

Karnes kits out in his marine garb and travels to New York, talking his way past the police barrier and crawling through the ruins to look for survivors. It's supposed to have really happened that way, but Stone picked up on it and put it in his movie. Was it the similarity to the classic Rambo figure Americans love, walking alone into the battlefield with nothing but his dedication to America?

Then there's the final line in the film, where Karnes looks around at his fellow rescuers, saying the marines needs more recruits 'to avenge this'? Knowing how much blood has been spilled in the name of September 11 since that day, was it Stone's walking, talking Vietnam recruitment poster all over again, post-Platoon?

We might never know, and Stone might be sniggering behind his hand knowing he's still got it.

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