Thursday, May 18, 2006

"The color for the day is green"

The trailer for Oliver Stone's "World Trade Center" movie is making the rounds (you can read about what "disturbingly saccharine melodrama" it appears to be). I guess you could say I'm "simulblogging" my initial viewing of the trailer (that counts; I'm writing it as I go)...

Soft, pretty little piano chords play over images of the sun rising--the morning of September 11th. Yes, we know that it was a nice day before the attacks started. An American flag hanging out an apartment building feels anachronistic, given that this is the pre-9/11 world we're seeing.

Cage gives a morning roll call speech to some in the NY police department. "The color for the day is green," he says. The color for the day is green? Please tell me the NYPD does not really begin their work day with their "color for the day." I'm sorry, I thought this was the police department, not kindergarten. When's nap time, by the way? If there's some inside meaning to that phrase that I'm not aware of, please let me know.

A surprisingly fake-looking shadow of one of the planes passes over a New York building, juxtaposed in the same shot with a nearby billboard for Zoolander--starring Ben Stiller. I suppose the billboard is supposed to remind you of what was happening back in 2001, in order to give you a cultural frame of reference. Good thing that's there; it really helps me place myself back in that former, 2001 world.

Hollywood symphony strings begin while cops ride a bus towards the towers. Cage, talking while driving (Geez, keep your eye on the road!), says, "Prepared for everything, but not this. Not for something this size. There's no plan." This serves partially as a voice over for images of police in busses and on the streets who stand around and watch the chaos in utter disbelief.

Police gather in front of Nicolas Cage and watch him like he's about to deliver a sermon...in front of the burning World Trade Center. "Okay, listen up. We've got to evacuate the tower." The police stand still; there is a moment of them silently looking at him and pouting. Finally, one officer breaks the silence, saying, "I got it, Sarge." He then steps forward--much like the scene in Jerry Maguire, where the office sits in silence after Tom Cruise's speech, and Renee Zellweger eventually gets up, and says, "I will go with you!" Eventually, everyone has joined in, and in a very masculine tone, Cage says, "Follow me; stay together." I suspect that the actual NYPD acted with a little more efficiency. Keep in mind, those strings are still going.

Cage shouts as part of the building inside one of the towers starts to give way. Maggie Gyllenhaal walks somewhere, distraught and in close-up. Maggie, what are you doing in this movie? Cage I understand, but you? I thought you knew better than that.

There is ongoing cross-cutting between women doing womanly things--one holds a child, one strokes the linens she presumably shared with her husband--and men doing manly things like getting trapped underneath the rubble at the World Trade Center. The strings symphony tries to get as heart-wrenching as it can.

This cross-cutting continues for a quarter of the trailer. We see Cage holding his children in domestic bliss, then him underneath rubble, saying to another trapped officer, "Can you still see the light?" "Yeah!" the other cop says. But is it the light of the sun or the light of the good of humankind that he sees? Only Oliver Stone knows.

The following text is shown over a shot that moves up above the buildings, eventually to a shot of the whole city: "The world saw evil that day. Two men saw something else. World Trade Center. A true story of courage and survival."

Anyone who didn't buy my argument about United 93 will certainly still think that this movie--at least what we see in the trailer--is not gritty, realistic, or documentary-like.

UPDATE: Sarah in the comments, adds: "'Color for the day is green' refers to how a police officer can verify the identity of another officer working undercover. "

I had a feeling there could be a reasonable explanation for what that referred to, but my immediate assumption upon watching the trailer was something that apparently most people who watch it initially believe. I searched for the answer to what this could refer to before posting, and asked several people what they thought; all seemed to reach the same conclusion I did. Hopefully, this is explained in the movie. If it is, then it's a terribly edited trailer, because it causes most viewers to see the line as pure sentimentality. I still find the phrasing unusual, and I doubt people in the NYPD really talk like that. My suspicion is still that Oliver Stone gave it a kindergarten-oriented wording in order to create a sentimental double-meaning.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Sarah said...

"Color for the day is green" refers to how a police officer can verify the identity of another officer working undercover.

9:32 AM  
Blogger Michael Farris said...

"The color for the day is green"

Okay, I may be going straight to hell, but that just reminds me of Reservoir Dogs.

4:09 PM  
Blogger Henetek said...

The color of the day mechanism is very useful in a large police force such as the NYPD.

I won't go into any furher detail in order not to violate opsec.

1:17 AM  
Blogger fr33kman said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2:38 PM  
Blogger fr33kman said...

The color of the day is a recognition signal between undercover officers of NYC police agencies (and other agencies when working in NY). An undercover officer will wear a headband or wrist band of the "color of the day" which is told to officers at the station house or else can be heard on early morning radio in NYC. It is supposed to stop blue-on-blue shootings.

{all information freely available on the internet, no opsec if it's been published!)

2:40 PM  

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