Many people wonder if “Patriots Day,” a movie about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, is even worth making anymore. On March 5, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth denied filmmakers permission to film on their campus, citing the disruption to campus life the shoot would cause, The Boston Globe reported.
CBS Films, the production company behind “Patriots Day,” issued a statement to the Globe in which it wrote that it will make a movie that will “make [UMass Dartmouth] and the entire city of Boston proud.”
This comes just a week after Watertown also prohibited filming on Dexter Avenue and Laurel Street, the intersection where the shootout between perpetrators Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and the police, USA TODAY reported. The city denied the production company’s request because the scene would have required loud gunshots to be repeatedly fired at night.
When is it too soon to revisit a traumatic event through cinema? There’s no real answer, but three years seems like too short of a recovery period.
If this movie were a documentary, the resurgence of pain that comes with revisiting the incident may also provide an opportunity to learn more about the stories of those affected by the bombing. But this is not a documentary. It’s a big-time Hollywood production starring Mark Wahlberg, J.K. Simmons and John Goodman. Its purpose is not to inform, but to profit. The monetization of tragedy is never OK.
The filmmakers could be completely genuine in their efforts to represent the City of Boston as accurately and respectfully as possible. But Bostonians will inevitably question the authenticity of this movie and its motives. Vigils and memorials pay tribute to those lost in tragedies. Movies just pay.
This movie is one more installation in a long legacy of Hollywood movies that use Boston as a gloomy backdrop to carry out their dreary historical fantasies. There’s so much more to Boston than just mobsters and terror attacks.
Hopefully the premise of a bombing won’t lend itself to an action movie. Trading real people’s stories for high-speed chases and gunshots is something that Hollywood has done all too often. It leaves behind the truth for the glamour.
Putting the Hollywood glitz on tragedies cheapen them if a movie isn’t done right. Handled well, “Patriots Day” could prove successful in capturing a significant moment in Boston’s history. “Spotlight” handled a traumatic event very respectfully.
The biggest issue about this movie is that its story will not be told by the actual people who directly experienced the marathon bombing. They won’t be interviewed because characters will be too busy telling the story.
And if the movie must come out, it doesn’t matter if it is actually shot in Boston. There’s no need to make the people of Boston relive a tragedy more than once in the name of entertainment. Bostonians just want closure and time enough away from the event to heal. Seeing this movie advertised is going to be like Boston Marathon coverage part two for those who’ve suffered from it.
Boston is a city with pride like no other. Memories from the will always be with this city, and the emotional burden of the incident will always be with its residents. Even those who moved to Boston just to attend college have a deep connection to this city. It takes a heavy heart to just hear about the bombing again. Boston doesn’t need a movie to document that.
The City of Boston likely isn’t going to rally around “Patriots Day” prior to its release. It will probably never be the right time to revisit a tragedy as significant as the 2013 marathon bombing. Way back when, very few movies were made after the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Documentaries were certainly released, but not making a movie out of a national tragedy is the right decision. Everyone heals at different rates.