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'Too soon' for marathon bomb movie

Published 11/04/2015

Mark Wahlberg is facing criticism for his plans to make a film about the Boston Marathon bombing
Mark Wahlberg is facing criticism for his plans to make a film about the Boston Marathon bombing

Boston-born actor Mark Wahlberg has been attacked over his plans to produce a feature film about the city's deadly marathon bombing.

Columnists, pundits and others in the city say the pain and suffering caused by the 2013 attack is still too fresh and too real for the families of the three killed and the hundreds injured to think about making a movie.

"How does someone who markets himself as 'a Boston guy' not see that it is far too soon, that the city is still far too sad for its trauma to be transformed into mass entertainment?" Eileen McNamara, a former columnist for The Boston Globe who now teaches journalism at Brandeis University, wrote.

Others questioned the timing of the announcement - two weeks before the second anniversary of the bombing and in the middle of the federal trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the 21-year-old bomber convicted of the attack on Wednesday.

CBS Films said the film, Patriots' Day, would be based on a first-hand account from former Boston police commissioner Ed Davis of the investigation and massive manhunt for Tsarnaev and his brother Tamerlan, 26, who died during a gun battle with police.

During the trial, marathon spectators gave heartbreaking evidence about losing legs in the explosions or watching people bleed to death on the pavement.

The father of the youngest victim, Martin Richard, eight, described making the agonising decision to go get help for his six-year-old daughter, whose leg had been blown off, after realising his son would not survive.

"The trial has served as almost a movie of the events itself, making the concurrent announcement of a fictionalised portrayal feel unnecessary and inappropriate," wrote Charlotte Wilder of boston.com.

"Maybe one day, even some day relatively soon after the trial, turning the events into a film worthy of the story would help the healing and honour the lives of those affected. But for now, Wahlberg - who plays up his Boston roots whenever he gets the chance - picked the wrong time to break the news."

Liz Norden, the mother of two sons who each lost a leg in the bombing, said it was "way too soon" to make a movie about the attack and believes Hollywood will not be able to capture the agony of that day.

"I don't think that could ever be recreated," she said.

"I've sat in the courtroom with survivors and family members and seen what everybody is going through. It's been two years but people who live it day in and day out, their lives are just coming back somewhat.

"For people dealing with putting legs on every day or people who lost loved ones, that doesn't go away."

But Ms Norden said that if someone had to make a film about it, it might as well be Wahlberg, 43. "He's from Boston," she said.

Mr Davis told The Boston Globe he turned down several earlier offers for movies and books. He said representatives of CBS Films told him they were going to make the movie anyway.

"Because I'm a public person, I didn't have the right to stop them. I could either work with them or not," he told the newspaper.

"I talked to them at length and I thought it would be better to have some input - to make sure that the depiction was done properly."

Wahlberg's representatives did not return calls and emails seeking comment.

Meanwhile, the penalty phase of Tsarnaev's trial has been postponed until April 21, after the second anniversary of the attack and the day after this year's race.

US District Judge George O'Toole granted a request from Tsarnaev's lawyers to give the defence additional time to resolve logistical issues with potential witnesses. Tsarnaev could face the death penalty.

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