Standard Article

American Film After 9/11

4. 1976 to the Present

4. 1999–Present

  1. Stephen Prince

Published Online: 13 NOV 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9780470671153.wbhaf093

The Wiley-Blackwell History of American Film

The Wiley-Blackwell History of American Film

How to Cite

Prince, S. 2011. American Film After 9/11. The Wiley-Blackwell History of American Film. 4:4:88.

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 13 NOV 2011


The airplane attacks on 9/11 were among the most photographed events in history. Bin Laden and al-Qaeda had counted on this. They wanted and needed a media event to increase their reputation and following, and the September 2001 attacks gave it to them. While there were three principal locations involved — the Pentagon, struck by American Airlines Flight 77; the field in Pennsylvania where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed after an onboard struggle between the hijackers and passengers; and the north and south towers of the World Trade Center, struck by American 11 and by United 175 — it was the Trade Center that furnished the most iconic imagery and was the most photographed. The long interval — 102 minutes — between the strike on the north tower and its collapse (the south tower fell first) provided opportunity for onlookers to make an extensive photographic and video record. Images of fireballs exploding out of the tower, of massive belching clouds of smoke, of the jumpers, the collapse, and the monstrous cloud of ash, dust, and vaporized body parts descending on Manhattan seared the national consciousness. These images provide an enduring record of what happened, and they were candid, spontaneous pictures of tragedy and death unfolding before hundreds of cameras.


  • terrorism;
  • 9/11;
  • world trade center;
  • hollywood film;
  • al-Qaeda