Never one to shy away from controversy, Spike Lee includes some very haunting and emotional footage of post-9/11 New York City in his new film, The 25th Hour. Lee feels these images are impactful and even goes so far as to chastise other directors for not including similar footage in their Manhattan-based projects.
"Other studios and filmmakers had a chance, not necessarily to make a comment on it, but to include images of the World Trade Center," Lee explains, "and they chose to punk out.
"We weren't going out like that," he adamantly states. "We did what we felt we had to do."
In one emotional moment, two friends (Barry Pepper and Philip Seymour Hoffman) discuss a mutual pal who's about to start a seven-year prison sentence. During their conversation, Lee chose to pan past the actors and show vivid scenes of the clean-up crews pulling wreckage from Ground Zero. Touchstone Pictures execs voiced concern that these images might detract from the story.
"The studios thought that," Lee says, "but not on my part. I knew it was powerful."
Pepper agreed with Lee's decision to keep the questionable scene. "We were on the 40th floor of the Second World Financial building," the actor recalls, "and we were looking out the window. Spike and Philip and I just stood there in awe. It kind of changed the course of the filming that evening, because it was all supposed to be about me and Philip and this scene. And Lee just said, 'F--- it, man. We're shooting this in a master shot because that's what it's about.'
"This is the reality of a post-9/11 New York City drama," Pepper adds. "This is it. We've got a crater in the middle of our city you can't avoid it. It would be an injustice to avoid it."