Original airdate: September 1st, 2013
Running time: 80 minutes
When something’s taken from us, as violently as the Twin Towers of New York’s World Trade Center were on the morning of September 11th, 2001, the need to rebuild is one that’s mixed with more than just one sentiment. The desire to replace what was lost with something better, taller, stronger and more magnificent than ever before is partly to heal ourselves from this collective trauma, and the skyline itself, but it’s also a gesture of defiance. You can knock our buildings down, but you can never break our spirits.
Yet, how do you go about rebuilding what once stood there? How do you build something that on a site like Ground Zero, something that honours this famous city and the thousands who lost their lives on that very spot? Rebuilding The World Trade Center is a documentary by artist and filmmaker Marcus Robinson that utlises time-lapse photography, sketches, paintings and interviews to tell us about the mammoth project that started there once the site had been cleared from debris in 2006.
Robinson’s cameras photographed once every 30 minutes for six years and with this technique we’re able to see months of work completed in a matter of minutes to the mechanical, and often industrious soundtrack. It’s almost like watching a piece of modern dance carried out by gigantic cranes with columns of steel and concrete in their grip on a stage of bedrock. But what about the building itself, One World Trade Center?
Designed by Daniel Libeskind, who also designed the fascinating Jewish Museum in Berlin and the Graduate Centre at my former university, London Metropolitan University, One World Trade Center was envisioned as a 104-story skyscraper to stand on the site of the original 6 World Trade Center and not where the Twin Towers once stood. As impressive as Libeskind’s design is, it’s very hard for me to fall in love with One World Trade Center because of what once stood on that site, but Rebuilding The World Trade Center is the kind of documentary that allowed for me to put those emotions aside and try to move beyond it, accepting that we now love in a different time.
Many construction workers are interviewed and take the time to discuss what it’s like working there; seeing what was once Ground Zero become the home to something exciting and new. We also get to hear from site managers, those who dug the foundations and the iron workers who assembled the steel frame of the buildings, walking across open girders hundreds of feet in the air to get the job done.
Having graduated from Cambridge University in 1982, Robinson’s career as a photographer began to take off after he started exhibiting landscape photographs in cafés and galleries around Paris, where he was teaching English at the time. This lead to him being commissioned for a large number of projects around Paris and then it wasn’t long before he produced the time-lapse documentary The Millennium Wheel, that charted the building of the tallest ferris wheel in Europe. Screened at the London Film Festival and shown on Channel 4 on the eve of the new Millennium, it raised his profile even further and I think he was the perfect choice to produce a documentary like this one.
Rebuilding The World Trade Center is nothing less than an exceptionally made documentary and work of art on its own. It gives a voice to many who’ve been working on this project and gives us a rare look at what’s already an iconic building, designed to heal a broken landscape and usher in a new age. Whatever that might be, only time can tell.
The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is a composer and music producer with a philosophy degree. Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and World Cinema, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.
You can find his music on Soundcloud .