Orson Welles once said that, “The notion of directing a film is the invention of critics—the whole eloquence of cinema is achieved in the editing room.” For Spike Lee, the chance to go back into the editing room with NYC Epicenters 9/11-> 2021½, his HBO docuseries that chronicles the September 11 attacks and how New York City has changed over the 20 years since that day, should also mitigate the rash of criticism he has received for devoting part of his running time to airing 9/11 truther conspiracy theories. The Hollywood Reporter confirmed that Lee has edited out the inclusion of these preposterous ideologies from the final part of his four-part series, and that “the final chapter is also now 30 minutes shorter than previously planned.”
On Monday, The New York Times published an interview with Lee in which writer Reggie Ugwu questioned the director’s decision to include interviews with members of Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, a conspiracy theory group that believes the collapse of the Twin Towers was the result of a controlled demolition. While Lee didn’t say he agrees with that particular theory, he admitted that, “I got questions. And I hope that maybe the legacy of this documentary is that Congress holds a hearing, a congressional hearing about 9/11.” When pressed further on whether he believed the “official explanations,” Lee responded:
“The amount of heat that it takes to make steel melt, that temperature’s not reached. And then the juxtaposition of the way Building 7 fell to the ground—when you put it next to other building collapses that were demolitions, it’s like you’re looking at the same thing. But people going to make up their own mind. My approach is put the information in the movie and let people decide for themselves. I respect the intelligence of the audience.”
When Ugwu wisely responded with, “Right, but you don’t say ‘make up your own mind’ about whether or not the vaccine is poison, or ‘make up your own mind’ about whether Joe Biden was legitimately elected,” Lee concluded that, “People are going to think what they think, regardless. I’m not dancing around your question. People are going to think what they think.”
Clearly, the conversation—and the uproar surrounding it—was enough to lead Lee to think that he might be better off removing these controversial takes altogether. As The Hollywood Reporter notes:
In addition, part three also presented conspiracy theories about Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania after passengers attempted to take back control of the plane from hijackers. The theory, which wasn’t initially included alongside any expert knowledge, argues that the plane didn’t crash, but had instead been shot down. There have been no new edits to part three.
The re-cut—and shorter—part four of NYC Epicenters 9/11-> 2021½ will air on HBO on September 11.
(Via The Hollywood Reporter)