September 11: A More Important Date for the Pentagon Than You Know

September 11 is obviously an important date in the history of the Pentagon due to the attack that took place in 2001. What many of you may not know is that in one of those odds bits of coincidence that many confuse with irony, the date of September 11 takes on even more resonance in the history of this massive building as a result of it being the date, exactly 60 years earlier, that construction officially commenced. One day a great movie will be made about the cowardice in the cockpit, the heroism on the ground and the terror around the Pentagon in 2001 that connected everyone involved.

Of course, that film may likely come long after a similar great movie that takes viewers inside the World Trade Center as events unfold following the attack by a different set of cowards believing yet another crazy religious fantasy. The Pentagon is a bit, shall we say, skittish when it comes to lending Hollywood access into what goes onside the largest office building in the world. Then again, it all depends on perspective. When a studio comes to the Pentagon asking for assistance with realism, help is almost always extended when the script makes the American military look good. When a more balanced approach to the facts are involved, well, let’s just say that the directors of those movies are forced to be more creative. Let’s just hope that the next time Michael Bay goes to the Pentagon asking for assistance, let’s all hope he’s making a movie in which the U.S. Army is the unqualified villain!

Getting a look into inside the Pentagon courtesy of the movies is not an easy thing. We probably have a much realistic idea of what the inner workings of the Vatican look like than the headquarters of those whose salary to keep us safe we pay. Probably the most accurate portrayal of the interior of the Pentagon is “No Way Out” but don’t go thinking that you are actually enjoying one of those movies that received a warm welcome from the Pentagon. When all the twists are revealed in this nifty little thriller starring Kevin Costner before he fell under the delusion that he was Orson Welles you will understand that there was never in any way in heck that this script was going to win some assistance from the U.S. military.

The actual locations for the shots that are supposed to be taking place in the Pentagon in “No Way Out” were shot in the studio. If you are used to seeing recreations of the Pentagon in movies about attacks against the United States either from other countries or from out of this world, you have been conditioned to expect that the Pentagon is something of a monolithic structure that imparts a sense of military might and supremacy with perhaps a nod to paranoia. The grand War Room of “Dr. Strangelove” provides an iconic stereotype for the idea of the Pentagon as a structure that breathes a certain kind of inorganic masculinity that advertises itself as centerpiece of the warrior instinct.

“No Way Out” presents an idea of the Pentagon as the world’s most frustrating piece of bureaucratic architecture. The design is drab and the topography intentionally confusing to anyone who is not supposed to be there. Like a portrait of a legendary genius who looks like the guy who take the pictures for driver licenses down at the local DMV, “No Way Out” apparently succeeds in recreating a reality to which the fantasy is greatly preferred.