Published: Sun, February 11, 2018
World | By Melba Underwood

Art, Life and God Play Out in New Film

Art, Life and God Play Out in New Film

Based on a book written (along with Jeffrey E. Stern) by Sadler, Skarlatos and Stone, the film stars them, too.

After meeting the three men in their 20s at an awards show, Eastwood chose to make a film, but rather than casting actors, the Oscar-winning director called on the friends themselves. For all three, faith is an essential part of their story.

"There's just too much going on for it to just be coincidence", offered Skarlatos, a former Army National Guard specialist. It had to be God looking out for us.

Despite the terrifying nature of that day, Stone, Skarlatos and Sadler say it wasn't distressing for them to relive the encounter.

Stone would go on to learn Jujitsu, which would be instrumental in helping him subdue the terrorist.

When they went to visit the Oscar-winning director they assumed he would be introducing him to the actors he had chosen to play them - the likes of Chris Hemsworth and Zac Efron. He wanted to "make people aware that they have the strength to do (extraordinary) things themselves".

Another moment of providence would be their decision to leave Amsterdam a day early and head to Paris.

"It doesn't have to be terrorists on a train, but it could be anything they face in their own life", he said. "He was recording us and we didn't even know".

While on the train, the men were awakened by the sound of glass shattering. Stone sometimes speaks darkly of having a feeling that he's being pushed toward some great event, while in Germany a tour guide corrects their belief that Hitler killed himself in the face of advancing US troops: "You Americans can't take credit every time evil is defeated".

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Khazzani was already on the authorities watch list for supporting Islamic terrorism and attending a radical mosque. Once in, Stone handles disappointments impassively, while the most exciting thing that happens to Skarlatos is having his rucksack stolen in tense Afghanistan.

As he entered the train auto where the three friends were sitting, the men had to act fast. For middle-school kids like Stone (and many fully matured adults), the tacked-up postering of the bedroom as sanctuary reveals something of adolescent aspiration.

"It was the most fun two months of my life, our lives", Sadler said.

In his landmark essay on late-career style, Edward Said noted that an artist's final-years work is generally seen as an attempt to establish a sense of "harmony and resolution" with an existent canon. "You don't necessarily always get to do it with best friends, but our lives up until then were leading up to that moment for sure". "Then the doubt started creeping in and we asked for the night to think about it".

SS: "I think that's kind of the moral of our story is that we're just three ordinary guys that were put into a insane situation".

The three friends hope the film will deliver the message that ordinary people can accomplish extraordinary things and that every life has a objective. "There's no denying it". Rambunctious but good-hearted, young Spencer (William Jennings) and Alek (Bryce Gheisar) get sent to the principal's office a lot, much to the despair of their struggling single-parent mothers, played by Judy Greer and Jenna Fischer, who nevertheless have their backs. And certainly part of us wants to honor the people who triumph over an bad event by celebrating them rather than pale studio stand-ins.

Fact: In the days preceding the attack, Stone wondered whether the men might be destined for something significant.

The trio was on a train from Amsterdam to Paris on a European vacation on August 21, 2015 when a suspected terrorist opened fire on passengers.

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