Earlier this week, Deadline reported that a feature film will be made about the April 15th Boston Marathon bombings, based on an upcoming book entitled Boston Strong. The book, co-written by true-crime writer Casey Sherman and Boston Herald reporter Dave Wedge, will cover the day of the attacks, the following manhunt, and other events leading up to Patriots Day 2014. Whether or not the film by screenwriters Eric Johnson and Paul Tamasy (The Fighter) will span the same timeline is unknown, but it's safe to assume that the movie will at least cover April 15 and the week that followed, during which the city of Boston was on lockdown.
As expected, many people have taken issue with the announcement that the film will be made, calling it "too soon" and arguing that tragedy does not have to immediately turn into entertainment. One of Bustle's own writers wrote that she felt a movie this close to the day of the bombings is in bad taste. These are all valid points. Yet as someone who goes to school in Boston and was three blocks away from the marathon finish line on the day of the attacks, I have to disagree.
A movie about the Boston Marathon bombings is exactly what the people of Boston need. If it's done well, and there's a good chance it will be — it's written and produced by the people who made 2010's fantastic Beantown-based The Fighter — it will be a powerful, moving take on one of the biggest tragedies in recent American history. By recreating the events that occurred during and after April 15, the film will help bring closure to the thousands of people affected by the attacks. Most importantly, though, it will allow for others — the ones who weren't there on Marathon Monday — to see what we experienced, and maybe, finally, understand.
I've written before about what it felt like to have been at the finish line five minutes before the attacks, and the process of emotions I go through every time (and believe me, it happens often) someone asks, "Were you there?" I've talked to friends, family, and strangers about how April 15 felt like the longest day of my life, and how bizarre it was to see Boston on lockdown, and how even now, months later, I get chills when I recognize people and places I know in photos from that week. Yet no matter how comforting or understanding someone is, unless they were also in Boston during the Marathon, they don't fully get it, nor do I expect them to. It's only my friends from school, who, like me, spent hours wrapped around our common room's TV, having to get permission from the National Guard to walk outside our dorms, who can relate. I'm sure it's the same for people who were in Manhattan during 9/11, or Newtown during the shooting. If you weren't there, no amount of articles read or photos seen will make you understand.
Yet a movie could change this. Like a newspaper op-ed or TV report, film is media, but it has a power to project emotion in a way that many other mediums cannot. Seeing the events of April 15 unfold onscreen for two hours will allow audiences to feel the urgency of the attacks and experience the same emotional impact that hit Boston residents on the day of the bombings. While nothing can compare to actually being there on Marathon Monday, a movie will be the closest the public can get to understanding what it was like to be in Boston that day.
And so I need this movie to happen. I need it to be good, and I need it to be seen. It's exhausting, telling people again and again what it was like to be there — I need them to know for themselves. I need them to understand.