Tuesday, September 18, 2007

IFP: Objects and Memory

Marketing professionals can explain the importance of punchy titles. Objects and Memory is pretty pedestrian as far as titles go, but it is oddly appropriate for a film that examines how everyday items took on enormous significance based on their proximity to the World Trade Center on September 11th.

Directors Jonathan Fein and Brian Dantz have crafted a very moving and respectful film. While they focus on the WTC, they also examine relevant examples from the Oklahoma City bombing and the Viet Nam Memorial. There are deeply personal recollections from family members that have not to my knowledge been told elsewhere. When you hear family members explain the meaning of a recovered item, like a wallet or purse, it is poignant. A particularly devastating segment involved a woman actually born on Sept. 11th, whose birthday present was salvaged from the trunk of her husband’s car.

Beautifully filmed with supportive music by Philip Glass and narration by actor Frank Langella, Objects is a film that deserves a wide audience (trailer here). At a time when cynicism about the events of September 11th is being promoted for dubious purposes, Objects reconnects viewers with the personal reality and magnitude of the event, without engaging in any sort of polemics.

The practice of investing spiritual meaning in otherwise commonplace items is well documented in human history—one need only look at the relics collected by the early church. As is abundantly clear in Objects, it is not the combination of wood, glass, or acrylic particles that gives an item its true value, but what humanity adds to it. Screened in its entirety (62 minutes), Objects seemed to have an affect on all in the audience. Well meaning and well crafted, it is a film which ought to reach a wider audience.