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ONE DAY IN SEPTEMBER is a documentary film about the 1972 Munich Olympic
games hostage crisis in which Palestinian terrorists took members of the
Israeli team hostage. This film keeps the viewer's interest by telling the
story in real-time, with all events in chronological order established by
newsreel footage, interviews with people involved and other first-hand
accounts. The film ultimately portrays the utter incompetance used by
everyone involved to try to resolve the conflict unsuccessfully.
I was not very familiar with the incident before viewing this film, so I personally got a lot out of it. It really is a gripping piece of work, with no sides taken in delivering the true story of what happened that fateful day in September. I would recommend it to anyone interested in the event, or just to history buffs in general. I think almost anyone who sees the film will learn a lot of information about the incident, and I would urge them to do so. Highly Recommended.
This documentary is a revelation for all of us who witnessed on our television sets the hi-jacking of the 1972 Olympics Games by Palestinian terrorists. The ineptness of the German's in every aspect of this tragedy is almost incomprehensible and certainly reprehensible. To hear the interviews with those Germans involved, one would be inclined to share in their obvious amusement at such incompetence were it not for the murder of 11 Israeli athletes. And so one watches this film in three stages, with sadness, disbelief and then anger. For those not yet initiated to the most tragic event in Olympic history, on September 5, 1972, a week into the Olympic Games in Munich, Palestinian terrorists entered the Olympic compound and held hostage 9 members of the Israeli Olympic team, after already killing two who attempted resistance. Their demands were the release of 200 terrorists held primarily by Israel. Israel maintained its policy of "no negotiations with terrorist" while the Germans, anxious to get on with the games, attempted to negotiate a settlement that was never possible. In the end they bungled a rescue operation and all the hostages were murdered. ONE DAY IN September takes a much closer look at the facts, which should be a revelation for those ignorant of the European history of appeasement and the current crisis between radical Islamists and the West. In their desire not to be a target for terrorism, after having three of the Munich terrorists in custody, Germany arranged for the hijacking of a commercial airliner as a means to release their captives with a fictional hostage exchange scheme. One of them still lives to "proudly" tell his tale. The other two were hunted down and killed by Israel, acts that no doubt sparked condemnation from Germany and the UN.
Kevin Macdonald's Oscar-winning documentary One Day in September tells
the story of the 1972 Munich Olympics, an event that turned quickly
from an attempt by Germany to show the world that it had moved on from
the events of World War II, welcoming athletes and fans of all races
from all countries, to one of the most notorious incidents of terrorism
in recent history. It's an enormously thrilling and informative
documentary, and Macdonald covers the event in meticulous detail, but
it also plays out like a music video, with hit songs playing over
footage of bloodied dead bodies and little attention given to the
background of the Israeli- Palestinian conflict.
The film opens with an Olympic promotional video which the Germans no doubt hoped would help banish the world's memories of concentration camps and mass genocide, in favour of a more welcoming, laid-back Germany. Though documentaries on the whole are supposed to be objective, it's clear that Macdonald holds disdain for the German authorities, who bungled the entire operation from start to finish. Rather than a tight security force, the Olympic committee opted instead for a dressed-down and unarmed group of workers who strolled the Olympic village with no idea of the horrors to come. With heavy news coverage of the incident from journalists around the world, the terrorists were able to watch as volunteers armed themselves for a rescue operation on the TV in their room, and thankfully warned the authorities of this before the inevitable blood-bath occurred.
While the idea of efficiency is something that would normally go hand-in-hand with Germany, the only thing efficient about the whole saga was the quickly-handled release of three captured terrorists, who escaped custody when some Palestinians hijacked a plane and demanded their release. In a film chocked full of startling revelations, the most damning is the reveal that the Germany authorities arranged the entire thing. Questions were raised after it was discovered that the plane contained only a small number of passengers, of which none were women and children. Of all the incidents they should hang their in shame for, simply wanting to wash their hands of the whole ordeal at the expense of justice is unforgivable. Macdonald doesn't just rely on conspiracy theories either, with first-hand accounts from police, ranking members of the army, journalists, family members of the victims, and most startlingly, Jamal Al-Gashey, the only surviving member of the Black September group to take part in the events at Munich.
It was a tragedy from start to finish, and along with the bumbling behaviour of the Germans, was doomed to disaster from the very start. Macdonald builds up this sense of inevitability, and the horror climaxes with ABC anchor Jim McKay's live report after it emerged that their worst fears have finally been realised, and that the Israeli athletes held for less than 24 hours were "all gone,". Had Macdonald offered some background into the origins of Black September and the tensions between the Israelis and Palestinians, this may have been a masterpiece, Also, the massacre at the closing stages would have been the all more heartbreaking were it not for Macdonald's rock and roll style and gratuitous imagery. Still, this is powerful, well- researched stuff, and should be watched by anyone interested in this avoidable act of horror as the definitive account of that one day in September.
What a frustrating experience.
Interesting today, when you see a documentary entitled, "One Day in September," one thinks of 9/11.
In fact, this was another September in 1972 with other innocent people killed.
In 1972, Palestinian terrorists appeared at the 1972 Munich Olympics and took Israeli athletes hostages.
Contributing to this documentary is one surviving terrorist, Jamal Al Gashey, who is in hiding. If you saw the film "Munich," which I recommend, you will see what happened to the other terrorists at the hands of the Israelis.
This is a particularly anger-provoking documentary. There was minimum security at that Olympics so as not to upset the athletes. Okay. The Germans, of all people, did not have an anti- terrorist group, and their police were Keystone Cops.
Israel offered to help, but they were turned down.
In other words, any rescue attempt was ruined before it started.
The Germans made lots of plans to rescue the athletes, and these were dutifully reported by the television press. Unfortunately, all the rooms holding the hostages had televisions, so the terrorists could see and hear about the plans before they happened.
I did not feel that this documentary took sides, except in showing the incompetence of the Germans and the Olympics administration. The interview with Jamal Al Gashey was extensive, giving a play by play of what happened. He claimed there was no intention to kill the athletes. Well, they're dead.
Worse yet, everyone was told that the final rescue attempt was successful and all of the hostages were alive, only for the families to find out later the news was incorrect.
I can't get into a discussion of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. I also have absolutely no intention of putting this heinous act into perspective, although the Palestinians have a viable point of view. I just don't think that was the way to address it. There is no perspective that justifies killing innocent people and holding them for ransom. The Israelis weren't going to give them anything -- if they did, no Israeli anywhere would have been safe.
The Olympics make an attempting to further camaraderie among nations and bring people together. The wife of one of the victims gave a very poignant recitation, as did her daughter, who never knew her father.
Sadly, in this world, there are many children who never knew their fathers, thanks to years and years of Middle East conflict. What's the answer? I don't even know the question.
It's quite striking in watching documentaries with newsreel footage
from, say the 1960s, 70s, 80s and 90s that the people who look the most
outdated (ridiculously so!) are American network television newsmen.
With other people in old footage, fashions and haircuts may change over
the decades but no individuals appear clownish in outdated somewhat
clothes or grooming.
In any given period, though, network television newsmen are always exaggerated comic caricatures of that period's look.
Another documentary I saw recently in which this was apparent was "How to Survive a Plague."
When the massacre of the Jewish Olympians occurred back in 1972, I was
only 8 years old and it's a rather vague memory. Because of this, I
looked forward to seeing "One Day in September". However, even if you
remember the events rather clearly, you should still see this
exceptionally well made film--mostly because the epilogue is rather sad
This documentary is narrated by Michael Douglas and consists of many interviews (one of which, inexplicably, is with the surviving terrorist), contemporary footage and a few re-creations using computers. It explains step-by-step how the incidents occurred as well as the aftermath. It's all naturally very sad but also frustrating because the German authorities were so very incompetent--blowing so many opportunities and allowing LIVE news feeds which showed the German policemen sneaking up to the apartment where the terrorists held their victims! Duh. In fact, it's one screw up after another and it is both sad and maddening--especially the epilogue. I'd say more but I don't want to ruin the film. The bottom line is that this is the best look at the events of the time--and is a must-see for anyone wanting to learn about this tragic episode.
No, I don't think this remarkable documentary was pro- anything. The
Israeli team during the Munich Olympics was featured because they were
on the all-star list. In fact all the contenders were stars as they
always are during these world competitions. Of course we know their
names. We have access to the names of every contestant and finally,
every winner and loser. The fact that they come with biographies
certainly isn't any surprise. That's the nature of the Olympics. We
don't know much of anything about the terrorists. They weren't the
athletes in the competition. Why should we know about them? This
excellent film does not take sides, as hard as it must have been to
avoid, or make any overtly political statements and this has been
criticized in some quarters. Instead of presenting a political diatribe
or a hate machine or a propaganda film, this documentary sticks to the
facts, presented chronologically for the main part, and leaves the
viewer to draw any conclusions. There are some conclusions we can
hardly avoid but the film doesn't abet in trying to sway us. This is
simply a tragedy reviewed and the inability to deal with the
circumstances leading up to it in any practical way. The film whizzed
by, as painful as part of it was to watch. There wasn't much to see
about the personal reactions. That wasn't the purpose of this fine
piece of work.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I had never heard of this movie before tonite, when I watched it on
cable. from reading other reviews I understand that I didn't get to
view some important but gruesome scenes. those scenes may have made the
film even stronger, but believe me, "One Day in September" still packs
the documentary covers the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics, with an emphasis on the blundering (West) Germans who made a mess of the situation. Michael Douglas narrates, beautifully. for me, the interviews with survivors and family members were less interesting than the live-action scenes of the terror attack as it happened. it was especially moving to see Jim McKay ("They're all gone") and a little astonishing to watch the newspeople giving a play by play about the rescue attempt, which the terrorists were watching on TV along with the rest of us!
I dimly remember the event, but I had either never known or had forgotten the details. for example, how truly craven the Olympic officials were--after Israel flew its dead back home, the games continued. (it's interesting watching it now, after the IOC's refusal to give a moment of silence at the 2012 London Olympics.)
this is a very important movie for people to see. among other things, it reminds us that haters can always find a pretext for killing the people they despise. that's something we should especially remember these days, when another film is setting the Muslim world on fire, literally. I will definitely watch it again--this time with no cuts!
Whether winter or summer, the Olympic Games are meant to be a place
where the world comes together for the ultimate competition in
athletics. It is the ideal that dates back to ancient times when the
Greeks themselves invented the Olympics.
But on September 5, 1972, in an ordeal that lasted into the early morning hours of the following day, the Olympic ideal was brutally attacked when members of a shadow Palestinian terrorist group known as Black September hopped over the fence at the Olympic Village in Munich and killed two Israeli athletes, holding nine others hostage and threatening to kill them unless their demands for freeing two hundred political prisoners were met. With Israel point-blank refusing to negotiate, and having to take responsibility for this, a rag-tag German hit squad unleashed their firepower on the terrorists at the Furstenfeldbruck airfield just outside of Munich; and although three of the eight terrorists were eventually captured and the other five died in the mêlée, so too did the remaining nine Israeli athletes. It was the first act of terrorism ever televised to an international audience; and in 1999, it was the focus of the Oscar-winning documentary ONE DAY IN September.
Narrated by Michael Douglas, ONE DAY IN September examines, in a span of only ninety-one minutes, the way the 1972 Summer Olympics were laid out, and how it led to what took place. Munich was, just four decades before, the epicenter of the Nazi movement; and when it was awarded the '72 Games, memories of Hitler's 1936 Berlin Games, as well as the horrors of World War II and the Holocaust, were still fresh in the population's memories. The organizers of Munich '72 were determined to make it as different from "Hitler's Games" as was humanly possible; and while theirs were noble and good intentions, it turned out to be their undoing. The perimeter of the Olympic Village was a mere rusty fence, as opposed to sturdier materials like barbed wire (so as not to look like a concentration camp like Dachau, which was only seven miles away), and the security guards not only had no visible firearms on them, they didn't even look like security guards to begin with. This was how the eight Black September militants scaled the fence, with the unintentional help of drunk American athletes, and broke into the Israeli apartment at Connollystrasse 31. A great deal of negotiating between West Germany and Black September ensued, and the world was transfixed to their televisions, as they watched what had been up to that moment a peaceful Olympic celebration suddenly turned into the most overt act of terrorism the world had seen to that point.
Attempts by the West German government to end the standoff by force were totally unsuccessful (the country had no counter-terrorism force of its own, and relied on municipal cops); and when the terrorists and the hostages were transported by helicopters to Furstenfeldbruck, the situation took the ultimate horrifying turn. A whole horde of untrained German snipers unloaded on the airfield; and over the next forty-five minutes, all hell broke loose. Once the mêlée was over, officials of the West German government and the Munich Olympic Committee had stated that the terrorists had been killed, but the Israelis had been saved. Later on, of course, it was revealed that something totally different had transpired. It was up to ABC sportscaster Jim McKay to deliver the terrible news to the world: "They're all gone." People who remember those terrible two days in September 1972 will certainly be reminded of them again when watching ONE DAY IN September; and those who only know of 9/11 will be reminded of how terrorism can turn good things bad in a hurry. The whole ordeal, down to the last horrifying battle at Furstenfeldbruck, was an act of well-meant but painfully inept West German planning; and while the decision to go on with the Olympic Games after the deaths may have been a way of both paying tribute to the murdered Israelis and thumbing its noses at terrorists, it was also extremely controversial. Scenes of athletic competition, including those of U.S. swimmer Mark Spitz and Russian gymnast Olga Korbut, are interspersed with the horrific events at Connollystrasse 31 to emphasize the tragic turn Munch '72 took in the span of only eighteen hours. The mood is emphasized further by Heffes' modern score, with contributions by Glass, and a performance of the Funeral March of Beethoven's Eroica Symphony, as performed by Rudolf Kempe and the Munich Philharmonic at the memorial for the athletes. In the end, ONE DAY IN September was richly deserving of the Oscar it got, and it should remind us all of how political terrorism not only poisoned the ultimate sporting event, but also led to far worse things to come.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a top class documentary, telling the story of the events
surrounding the murder of Israeli athletes and coaches in Munich in
1972. There is an interview with the last surviving Palestinian who
took part in the attack. He describes being picked for the mission and
the specific training undertaken. He is not remorseful in any way for
the deaths that took place. There are also touching interviews with
family members of the Israelis. Most damningly from the German point of
view local police and politicians describe honestly how confused they
were in trying to settle the crisis.
The film sets the scene of the Munich Olympics, describing how anxious the organisers were for the games to be as carefree as possible leading to minimal security in the athletes village. Using remarkable news footage the film gradually builds up the tension as the Israelis are taken hostage. Negotiations with local politicians and police take place. A planned rescue by police is cancelled at the last minute.
Eventually the Palestinians are offered a plane and a rescue mission is planned at the airport. This is a disaster for all kinds of reasons and all the hostages are killed. The surviving Palestinians are arrested.
Even more chilling is the tacit admission by the Germans that the captured Palestinians were released deliberately by way of a "mock" hijack some months after the massacre.
An amazing piece of living history.
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