What can I say, either pithy or sincere, about the death of Osama Bin Laden at this point that has not been said? Our own Alan Sepinwall already did a nice job of summing up the surreal energy of the evening. I am genuinely pleased he is dead, and that is not a sensation I am accustomed to, this near-revelry in the passing of another. The emotions of 9/11 remain very close to the surface for many people, myself included, even if not consciously. I don’t spend time dwelling on it, but I am able to find myself upset anew at things at times I wouldn’t expect. And last night, when the announcement was breaking, I was watching it unfold on TV, flipping from channel to channel. I don’t have any cable reception at all in my office — streaming Netflix and Blu-rays are distraction enough — so I have to watch TV in my bedroom. I saw people online announcing the time… 7:30… and I made sure I was in the bedroom, TV on, ready. Things ran late enough that eventually the news just started breaking in anyway to let you know there was something coming. President Obama would be speaking, announcing… something. And very quickly, it started breaking, the actual story. Osama Bin Laden was dead.
I am aware of the possible repercussions. I think this is a story that is very much being written, not one that is done. And I am sure that all over Los Angeles, people have been on the phone and IM’ing and e-mailing each other, hatching movies or dusting off older movies or discussing the impact on something that’s already in motion. The death of Osama is going to leave a pretty big crater in pop culture, and it’ll play out in all sorts of different projects.
Borys Kit wrote about the Kathryn Bigelow project this morning, reuniting her with Mark Boal, called “Kill Bin Laden.” This is something that was already casting, something that could evidently move forward soon, either with or without rewrites to incorporate this weekend’s events, and possibly with Joel Edgerton to star. I’m rooting for all the various Edgertons in all forms, so the idea of him with the Oscar-winning “Hurt Locker” team making something that sounds edgy and action-packed, Bigelow’s sweet spot.
And how much do you want to bet someone’s going to option the twitter feed of @ReallyVirtual, aka Sohaib Athar. He seems to have live-tweeted the military operation that killed Osama without realizing it, one of the most remarkable things I’ve ever seen on social media. Described as “an IT consultant taking a break from the rat-race by hiding in the mountains with his laptops,” he just stumbled into a sort of instant celebrity that pretty much guarantees someone ends up making a movie about him.
Personally, I’d like to see Paul Greengrass given the go-ahead on this one. It would round out his cinematic take on this era, starting with “United 93,” in which he nails down the fear, the scar that was left on us in those moments In New York on a morning almost ten years ago now. I think “Green Zone” quite nicely captures the mixed-up priorities and overall moral frustration of the middle section of our reaction to what happened on 9/11. And if he were to make the movie about the mission that ended with a headshot for Bin Laden, it would allow the same man who left the scar to deliver the catharsis, the final pay-off.
The question isn’t “can we deal with this on film?”, but “how many different ways will people deal with this on film?” Let’s keep score of them over the next few weeks as we watch this play out, and let’s also keep sight of the fact that there are scores of people who have paid with their lives in all the years between those planes hitting those buildings and those SEALs dropping Bin Laden tonight, in places all over the world. Whoever finally tells this story has one hell of a responsibility, whether it’s Bigelow or Greengrass or Ridley Scott or Michael Bay, or all of the above or someone totally different. No pressure, right?