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Index 69 reviews in total 

52 out of 56 people found the following review useful:

This is NOT propaganda

8/10
Author: CoenRem (coen@4cis.nl) from Eindhoven, Netherlands
17 December 2002

I must admit that I was very sceptical about this documentary. I was expecting it to be the kind of All American Propaganda that we here in Europe dislike so much. I was wrong. This is NOT propaganda, in fact it is hardly political at all.

It depicts the events of 9/11 through the eyes of the firefighters called to the scene just after the planes crashed. It is an amazing coinsidence that this documentary was filmed at all! This film was initially shot as a documnetary about a rookie NY firefighter becoming "a man". We can only thank the film makers that they continued their work during the terrible ordeal that faced them.

A great piece of work. Absolutely stunning material. Highly recommended.

Regards,

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49 out of 51 people found the following review useful:

A must see...not just for Americans

10/10
Author: donstuie from Melbourne, Australia
12 April 2006

I was one of many that expected to see a glorified, Yankee-doodle dandy portrayal of a day that (as famously quoted) should live in infamy, rather than glory. How wrong I was. These guys were there, right in the middle of it, and the pictures they returned are both amazing and heartbreaking. And yet it all occurred on a chance trip to the world trade centre on September 11, 2001.

Two French filmmakers were compiling a documentary about life as a NY firefighter, particularly from the perspective of a young rookie coming up through the ranks. At the beginning we see much of this footage, just to remind us that there was no thought to producing a film about terrorism. This was intended to be a film about regular people earning an honest living helping others, and the beauty of the film is that it never loses this edge.

While investigating a suspect gas line (I think, my memory's a little hazy on that), we suddenly hear a plane fly overhead. The camera pans up to reveal a commercial jet torpedoing itself into one of the towers. What must the cameraman have been thinking at this time? Recognising the importance of the footage the camera stays on, and possibly realizing the same thing, the FDNY allow the camera to follow them into the building.

What follows is a true view from the front-lines. We see the commitment of the FDNY, their reactions (the stunned silence after hearing the first person fall to their death is chilling) as well as the collapse of the one of the buildings from the inside, while a second camera captures the events from the outside.

If it wasn't for the horrific event they were covering, the footage alone would be any young doco-maker's dream come true. Quite simply, the footage deserves to be preserved for all time. But what really sets this film apart is the genuine humanity that it brings to the viewer. We see firefighters charging in without hesitation, people of different races helping one another escape to wave of rubble and even the concern of the filmmakers for one another (they are brothers) as they cannot reach one another in the confusion. There are amazing sights as well as amazing human stories in this film, something Hollywood could never duplicate (even though it's trying).

9/11 isn't a film about politics. Nor is it a film about religion, nationality or even jihad for that matter. 9/11 is a film about people, and a true indication of the best and worst that we are capable of. 9/11 is quite simply one of the most important films I've ever seen, and would be the only film to be born from this event if it were up to me. You can't duplicate this.

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38 out of 48 people found the following review useful:

It got me thinking

10/10
Author: Kristine (kristinedrama14@msn.com) from Chicago, Illinois
10 October 2005

My roommate had bought this documentary and invited me to watch it with her. She's from China and only heard so much about 9/11 and wanted to know the cold hard truth and she wanted me to tell her more after the documentary. I felt awful watching this documentary, it was like reliving the nightmare and it still brings tears to my eyes.

But I'm extremely grateful that I watched this documentary, because on the day of September 11th, I'm sure we all remember where we were and what we were doing when we heard, all of us could only think certain questions: "Why?", "How?", "What's going on?", "Oh, my God!". Almost all the Americans were grateful for the brave firemen and policemen that risked their lives to save others. But I don't think we thought about what they were really going though. This wasn't actually supposed to be a documentary about 9/11, the cameraman was just filming a typical day on the job and they just happened to be a couple blocks away from the World Trade Centers and got everything, outside and in, on tape.

On Sep. 11th, I thought to myself "It's OK, the policemen and firemen will get the people out that survived". To be honest, I thought it was an accident, I was in my junior year of high school and getting changed from gym and getting ready to go to my science class. Someone came into the locker room shouting "Some building just got bombed in New York!", we all got dressed quickly and ran to our classrooms as we watched the first tower burning on TV. Not only 15 seconds later live on TV does the second plane crash into the other World Trade Center and we knew this was no accident. A few minutes later, we heard about the Pentagon and that there was a plane headed for Chicago but was shot down. So many thoughts ran through our heads and I kept on thinking "What are the firemen and policemen going to do?". But it's procedure to them I thought, they'll know what to do.

The first tower collapsed, we knew it, so many lives are now gone, the second tower crashed, things would never be the same. Those firemen in this documentary showed courage, confusion, and strength, the real raw human emotions. They didn't know what to do, they were just as scarred as those other people who were in the towers. They heard the bodies collapsing on the ground from people jumping out the windows. And here I was in a classroom just crying seeing all that was going on on TV. I was amazed with this film and just wanted to go to New York and tell them how grateful all the Americans were for their help. I know they feel like they were just doing their job, but they did more, they were hero's. Every day after Sep. 11th for 3 weeks they kept on digging knowing that there were no survivors, but they kept on hoping and praying. May God bless their kind and brave hearts.

As for my roommate she was crying and admitted this was her first time crying at these attacks. She got to see the truth of what had happened that tragic day. She asked "Why?". I didn't know what to say, it breaks my heart that people can be that evil. "It sounds clique', but it was a normal day for everyone" one of the firemen said in the documentary. No one expected this to happen. Not like that, those people in the World Trade Centers or the Pentagon or the planes that were hijacked, they were just doing their job, happen to be there, or even just was there for a second passing by. They were not just murdered, they were slaughtered, and those hijackers did it with a song in their heart. Then seeing in the middle east all the people celebrating, why do people do this? They celebrated death and the lose of: mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, friends, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. Why?

So, thanks to those people for making this documentary. You truly think about the firemen, policemen, and the troops in Iraq and it keeps your hope up that there are good people in this world. Thank you to all those people, you are our heroes.

10/10

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19 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

A Nutshell Review: (DVD) 9/11 (2002)

9/10
Author: DICK STEEL from Singapore
10 January 2006

It's true that you always remember what you were doing at a point when disaster or tragedy strikes. And none more so that September 11, 2001, a date which changed the entire global landscape in its fight against terrorism.

No, this documentary didn't set out to be dwelling on the events leading to 9/11. Rather, the filmmakers, brothers Gédéon and Jules Naudet, set out to do a documentary on the trials and tribulations of a rookie New York firefighter. They had gone to the academy and done some shoots of training, and had handpicked their "proby" (probation firefighter) to join them in an NY firehouse, home to Ladder 1 and Engine 7. But their production was to develop and contain at that time, believed to be the only shot of the first plane slamming into the World Trace Center.

I was traveling back with a friend on the train from a night of LAN gaming, and received a call at about 850pm local time from my Dad, who informed me of the above. Few minutes later, he told me there was another, and that the WTC was under attack. By the time I arrived home, the upper floors of the twin towers were ablaze and in smoke, and to my horror, they collapsed, under an hour.

The filmmakers had two cameras running that day, one who had followed a team out on a routine call, and which immediately raced to the WTC upon hearing and seeing the plane crash into it. We follow what is possible the only filmed sequence of events in the lobby of WTC1 where the first responders of firefighters, paramedics, and police had to make sense of what happened, and to quickly develop a plan of action. The other camera, held by the other brother, was making his way to WTC to look for his sibling, and along the journey, captured the many expressions of New Yorkers, as well as the sense of chaos in and around Manhatten.

Peppered throughout the documentary are numerous interviews with the men from Ladder 1 and Engine 7, which miraculously, did not suffer any casualty. But being survivors also brought about its own set of psychological turmoil, as they struggle to come to terms with the event. Through the events that unfold, we learn of the strong camaraderie amongst these men who risk live and limb each day on their jobs, to save lives.

We began with what the documentary was supposed to be, before events of the day totally swung in and became the focus, right up to the rescue phase where hopes of finding survivors under the rubble were kept alive by the men who work round the clock in making sense of the collapsed steel structures. It's not a film that is fabricated, and what you see here cannot be recreated in any other documentary (and heavens, not sound stages for Hollywood blockbusters). It's as close as you can get to that day, witnessing the event up close, from safety.

Code 1 DVD contains a separate extra hour of 4 sets of interviews with the men of Ladder 1 and Engine 7.

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16 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

A documentary in its rawest form, how a documentary should be made.

Author: Paula McCrossan from Wales
20 November 2002

When i watched this documentary, i was in tears, as i had seen previous 'specials' on 9/11. But this one was the one i would say showed the 'truth' in the sense that, they were inside the tower. We all knew that the fire fighters of New York had tried their best to save those trapped on the top floors, and most of them unfortunately lost their lives. This documentary showed their determination and frustration when they couldn't get to the people trapped.

As a budding documentary film-maker to me this is a pure documentary. In terms of it being real, that everything we see, hasn't been staged. The way a documentary should be made. But on the other hand, it is very heart felt and emotionally moving to watch. As most of the footage in the documentary has never been broadcast on the news.

Be advised it is very sensitive material to watch.

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20 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

Powerful and Moving...Never Too Grisly, Yet the Message Comes Across...

8/10
Author: MovieAddict2014 from UK
18 December 2002

"9/11," hosted by Robert DeNiro, presents footage from outside and inside the Twin Towers in New York, on September 11, 2001.

Never too grisly and gory, yet powerful and moving. "9/11" is a real treat. Anyone not moved by this television show is immune to anything.

5/5 stars --

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17 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

A dose of reality

Author: barryweir from London, England
6 September 2003

Too many of us feast off of the world Hollywood feeds us and we convince ourselves in our comfortable western world that we are safe and secure and have a right to a privileged life.

9/11 is a film everyone should see. It hits home the reality of the world that we live in. It shows us what humanity is capable of, that is the capability to be both devastatingly evil and selflessly charitable. The film shows us the very definition of the good people of our world, the bad, the innocent and the guilty.

New York holds a special place in my heart. I travel there whenever I can. I have had good times there. The last time I was at the WTC was a mere 5 months before the attack. I remember standing on the roof and enjoying the view of the Hudson River on a beautiful sunny afternoon. Whenever I watch 9/11 on DVD I sometimes find it difficult to accept that the very same place is shown falling apart and in flames.

I had a cousin in the WTC of the day of the attacks. He was on the 92nd floor. Suffice it to say he did not survive. I was foolish enough not to see him the last time I was at the WTC. I will regret not doing so until he day I die.

I forced myself to watch this documentary on the anniversary last year. I shall do so again on the second anniversary this coming Thursday. For me watching the events take place in this film really drives home for me the tragedy that happened that day to my cousin's family, my family, the city that I love, the United States, and even my own country, which was deeply affected. To me it it reminded me of why we must make the most of what we have in life because the are others in he world who have been less fortunate and we don't frankly know whether or not tomorrow will be our last day.

Six months after the attacks I returned to Ground Zero. As emotional an experience as it was it did not affect me as much as this film. This is a must see film. It is a film about everyday people. It is a film about the strength of human spirit in those people. It is a film that will make you feel sick, make you cry and leave you silent when it ends. However, it will also make you appreciate the value of life.

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13 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

GUT-WRENCHINGLY POIGNANT

10/10
Author: Dianne B. Dee (Chomolungma) from Ontario, Canada
21 July 2002

To sum this documentary up in a few words is next to impossible. Every fiber of your body tells you that this is not happening right from the opening montage of rapid-fire images, through to the last shot of the clean up at Ground Zero, but every frame is real. The story was thought up by two French brothers living in New York. Jules (28) and Gideon (31) Naudet (pronounced "Nau-day") want to make a documentary on New York City Firefighters, beginning with a "newbie" from the academy and follow him through the nine month probationary period to full-fledged firefighter. Seeking the help of their close friend, actor James Hanlon (36), an actor and firefighter at Station 1, Engine 7, the Naudets sift through the "Probies" at the academy and find one, Tony Benetakos to focus the bulk of their documentary on.

Tony becomes the butt of jokes and slowly learns the ins and outs of station life through the members of this close-knit family. Firefighters have a superstition about "Probies." It is that they are either "White Clouds" or "Black Clouds," meaning that with the latter, all kinds of fires follow the "Probie." The former means that very little fire activity follows, but one day, there will be the mother of all fires. Tony is a "White Cloud." After some initial growing pains, Tony settles into the firehouse as if he were a seasoned vet. Then the unthinkable occurs....

September 11, 2001 begins with a clear blue sky and an early morning call to go and see about a supposed gas leak not far from Wall Street. Because Jules has had little camera experience, Gideon hands a camera to his younger brother and tells him to ride with the chief, T. K. Pfeiffer. Arriving at about 8:42, the firefighters begin to use their gas detectors over a grate. Then the sudden roar of what seems to be a low flying airplane rips past the scene, and as Jules pans upwards, we see the first strike of the day. American Airlines Flight 11 smashes into the face of the North Tower of 1 World Trade. Pfeiffer orders his men into the fire engine and they head for the World Trade Center. Once there, Jules asks to accompany the Chief into the tower. Pfeiffer tells Naudet to stick close to him. Once inside, the full impact of the growing disaster begins to show on the faces of the men whose sole purpose is to save lives.

Gideon Naudet decides to leave the firehouse and walk down to the impact area. Once there, he captures the impact of the second plane, United Airlines Flight 175, with 2 World Trade. He knows Jules is with Chief Pfeiffer inside the towers. Watching and capturing the crowds' reaction to the unimaginable, Gideon begins to capture on tape the growing fear in Lower Manhattan. Inside tower one, Jules records the last view the world, or loved ones will have of their sons, fathers, uncles, grandfathers, husbands, boyfriends, friends as one by one, each firefighter, carrying 60 lbs of equipment begin the long arduous climb up 80 stories to rescue the injured and trapped. Jules also catches the last glimpse Chief Pfeiffer will have of his brother, Kevin, as he leaves to do his selfless duty. Also caught on video is the gutwrenching sound of falling bodies hitting pavement from victims choosing to jump from the higher floors above the impact zones, sooner than face death at the hands of the flames and smoke. But Jules is respectful, never once does he capture a sensationalistic moment...the money shot. His work is professional through his baptism of fire. He also catches the sight of debris falling from tower two after it is hit by the second plane and the ordered way the firefighters evacuated civilians from the building. Then Jules is caught in the collapse of the south tower and the first official victim is taken: Father Michael Judd, the Chaplain for the fire department. Then as Jules and Chief Pfeiffer make their way from the fallout of the collapse of tower two, tower one begins its structural collapse.

What results is a breathtakingly, poignant view from inside Ground Zero as Jules and Gideon work separately to document that day. Not knowing if either is alive, each fearing the worst. As each firefighter arrives at the firehouse, they greet each other with joyous hugs at having made it back. And in one moment of overwhelming emotion, Jules and Gideon are reunited. As Jules cries on his brother's shoulder, Gideon embraces his younger brother as Hanlon makes the filmmakers the subject. There is one fearful moment when Tony Benetakos, who left the station with a former chief, is believed to have been lost...but returns to the fold, this "Probie" has proven himself.

Shown with only three interruptions, 9/11 is a stunning achievement in documentary filmmaking. It ranks up there with the Hindenburg footage in showing history as it unfolds. The Naudets are to be commended for their deft handling of the subject. In lesser hands, the tendency would be toward the sensational, but the Naudets temper their eye toward dignity and compassion. Narrated by Hanlon, we get the feel of his words as he takes the audience through the events of September 11. Robert De Niro hosts the program in a sombre, restrained way. He never seeks the camera for his own glory, rather he lays out the scenes you are about to see. I also commend CBS for their bravery at airing this special. Chastised for their attempt at grabbing ratings, they temper their editing toward the emotions of the relatives of those who perished. This is a must see for anyone who needs to be reminded of what true heroism is. It isn't about dribbling a basketball, or selling an album of hate lyrics...9/11 is about humanity at its best. Heroism at its finest and the cost of freedom.

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10 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Still shocking

Author: Daniel Little (balddanny@hotmail.com) from Columbus, Ohio
6 September 2002

I'm glad that this documentary is now available on DVD on the one year anniversary. The most poignant shots, to me, were when people of all nationalities looked skyward, pointed at the smoldering towers, screamed, cried, panicked.... Every language and culture expressed a common grief as if the entire world was joined in arms for a moment. The documentary starts with rookie firefighters being filmed in training. One veteran joked "my first fire call was a burning trash can" as the rookies expressed excitement over being called to a burning car. Their naive, green faces would soon disappear. The french firefighter was merely shooting a routine training video. His camera would soon capture, up close, the nation's first major catastrophe of the 21st century. I just hope the shock of this event never wears off.

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13 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

cinema verite at its best

8/10
Author: frankiehudson from UK
7 June 2003

9/11 is a classic example of cinema verite, a sort of realist documentary, in this case of New York firemen as they battle against one of the most extraordinary events of world history. It's all tiny, unobtrusive, hand-held video cameras, often betrayed by the poor quality of most of the filming (and by the director, Naudet's hand frequently wiping the screen).

In this film, you get to know most of the firemen - Tony Benatatos, the rookie (or 'probie', in NY fireman vernacular), the Fire Chief Joseph Pfeiffer (who finds he's lost his brother later on) and a few others. There are studio interviews with most of these people throughout the film, just to emphasise the personal, reflexive nature of the events. The build-up is quite dramatic and well-done, particularly the passing-out ceremony at the Fire Department, with a few useful swish-pans and a sort of dialectical editing of the rather limited filmwork (just like Rob Reiner's A Few Good Men). Tony looks proud.

The viewpoint and camera angle is usually from amidst the firemen, which is interesting and there is some excellent footage from inside the lobby of WTC1 while Pfeiffer and his team plan what to do next - this is classic cinema verite. There is also the eery, haunting sound of the occasional human body crashing against the portico outside. It is then that an increasingly forlorn Fire Chief Pfeiffer realises that his task is desperate and probably hopeless - and this is before WTC2 collapses. You have to give credit to Naudet for knowing which faces to film and at which moment.

The sound of the neighbouring WTC2 collapsing is so awfully sad, poignant and terrifying that you realise what an ordeal this is for the firemen. From the lobby, it looks, feels and sounds like the end of the world and the poor firemen look so utterly bewildered and frightened. You hear an enormous rumbling, trembling maelstrom - like that of a giant, monolithic beast slowly falling to the ground after being so mortally wounded - the neighbouring tower has collapsed yet the fire team remaining in WTC1 are oblivious to this event. Where is the communication?

This film is captivating yet the narration is amateurish and should have been avoided - cues like 'this really was a day like no other' or Naudet's frequently banal pronouncements like 'you could see fear in everybody's eyes' and 'I knew Tony was freaking out'! The film is really just one long video diary. There are no pictures from higher up the building where some of the firemen have gone. Imagine this film blended with CCTV footage from some of the rooms higher up or some of the news coverage from the day. The effect would be greater. You could even combine this story with that of Mayor Giuliani and, perhaps, the famous Cornishman Rick Riscorla who literally was many floors up acting the hero.

I don't see much of a propaganda element in this film, as some reviewers suggest. This film is no Triumph of the Will, by Riefenstahl. Some time later the firemen drape the American flag over a nearby, surviving building overlooking what has become Ground Zero. So what?

There are also some moments of dubious camerawork; for example, who is holding the camera when the two Naudet brothers are reunited back at the fire station? Is it staged?

There is an excellent finish, very much in the traditon of the excellent French director Alain Resnais (Hiroshima mon amour), with two strips of light reflected in the water, shimmying.

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