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Reviews & Ratings for
September 11 More at IMDbPro »11'09''01 - September 11 (original title)

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Index 56 reviews in total 

50 out of 61 people found the following review useful:

Seeing the Forest for the Trees

Author: synapse3119 from california
12 September 2003

Put simply, I think this film is a masterpiece. To call it anti-American is quite arrogant and uneducated, as I feel it is, above all, extra-American, meaning it portrays an entire global community and the effect a single event in the world can have. As Americans, we are understandably still heartbroken over the tragedy and may never fully recover, but if we're smart then we need to see that an entire non-American culture exists outside our little bowl and can't be expected to react, sympathize, and contribute in the same way or in ways we'd like. If a family down the street from you loses a loved one, naturally you're going to feel bad for them, but if you never knew them you're not going to be grief stricken, and no one would expect you too. Furthermore, if you had prior resentment against that family, it would still surface and mar your ability to sympathize. Does that mean you're a bad person? Of course not. But it illustrates the relativity of the impact a tragic event can have on everyone.

For one, I thought this was best illustrated in the segments from Iran, England, Bosnia, and Burkina-Faso.

In Iran, we're introduced to children who are (summed up in the first minute of film) refugees from their home country, building brick buildings to survive potential bombings, and living in dirt. And yet they all giggle and laugh and go on as naive children. And, in all honesty, why should they be effected by September 11? Bosnia's short portrays a culture that has been under a state of perpetual grief for as long as they can remember, and they still march in defiant protest and solemn anger over the death of their loved ones. Sure, news of 9-11 effects them, but in a land this morose and unhappy it's as if they have no more grief to give. Burkina-Faso's, while funny, illustrated a good point: The children don't hunt down who they think is Bin Laden because they are angry and vengeful, they do it for the money. They are, beneath it all, capitalists, the difference being they wanted money for good cause, unlike our government who disgustingly capitalized on 9-11 for the patriotism agenda.

And, perhaps Loach's London segment was the most effective in that it was a tearful way of saying "I feel your pain...maybe you could feel ours..?" How many people (especially in my generation) really know about the horrific history of Chile, and moreso, that our government was behind it? Nowhere do I see Ken Loach saying "shame on you America!!!" (as many have interpreted), but rather I see a wounded survivor in a heartfelt request for the same empathy he has for us on September 11. I'm sure the murder of Allende means a lot more to Chileans than the WTC bombings ever will, just as WTC will always mean more to us than the murder of Allende..

I admired the Mexican segment as an auditory experience but (CURSES!) the projector broke down and the sound got out of sync, thus completely marring the effect. Egypt's segment was kind of lame in it's technique but brought up an EXTREMELY good point: We always label civilians innocent, and in many respects we are, but to a terrorist, since the U.S. and Israel are democracies, we (supposedly) elect the leaders who commit atrocities against their people. Therefore, we are not innocent. A warped perspective, yes, but a valuable insight into the mind of the enemy.

Emotionally I thought the French segment was the most brilliant, as it characterized the attitude of this whole film. Focusing on the woman's deafness we are put in her head and experience, for a brief moment, what it's like to be deaf, the same as we might experience what it's like to be foreign or non English speaking. And as an audio-visual experience it was unforgettable. Only when her boyfriend comes home does the effect of the tragedy really strike her, and it reminded me that we take our senses for granted. I would love to see an entire movie from a deaf perspective.

The two low points in this film were the American and Japanese. I admired Sean Penn's story but hated his technique. Split screens and repeat-frames are tastelessly self indulgent (key word here is indulgent) and the Japanese short, while clever and striking, felt rather out of place here. I get the "Holy War" statement but it's better suited for another film and another argument. The Indian segment, while also a touching story, was sadly unimaginative and more matter-of-fact. Israel's short, as a one-shot, was creative, but the characters were annoying and laughably exaggerated.

What this film allows is for us all to levitate above the planet and gaze down on an entire global culture and how a single event effects it. I'm sorry if Americans are offended and see this as "anti-American propaganda" but that speaks of just plain not getting it. Every nation and every culture is as guilty as we are innocent. But to believe our tragedies are superior and carry more weight sentimentally is wrong and the gross effect of isolation and nationalism. We confine ourselves inside nations and borders and collective mentalities and forget that beneath (or perhaps above) all the ideology, we're all human beings and deserve to be treated as such.

A marvelous, unforgettable film.

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34 out of 42 people found the following review useful:

Welcome to Planet Earth

Author: Zen Bones from USA
11 September 2003

I couldn't help but watch this film from the perspective as an objective alien viewing a 2-hour feature about Earthlings. To judge this film by its individual merits or failures is like trying to understand the people of this planet by isolating them geographically and culturally. When I see how little so many reviewers here at IMDb don't get that, it is no small wonder to me why we as a species can't get along.

Each eleven-minute film here offers us a hint of what we are as a species. We see how children thousands of miles away have no greater concept of American culture than American children (as well as adults) have of theirs. That's a dangerous thing, especially when it is evident that the reflexive acquiescence of God's will is summoned so easily in order to explain ignorance away. The events of 9.11 scale down personal tragedies, such as deafness and failed relationships, while giving legitimate perspective of true human suffering, such as those who have been caught in the cycle of violence in Bosnia and Chile. Personal bitterness, such as a soft-news TV journalist being beaten out of a hard-news story, clashes with poverty-stricken children who shrug off an opportunity for overwhelming fortune and immeasurable fame when they realize that they can at least secure the cost of education and medicine for the near future. What happens when one tries to keep score of human suffering? The futility of that question is answered profoundly in a segment revolving around an American soldier and Palestinian terrorist - or an American terrorist and Palestinian soldier, or two soldiers or two terrorists, all depending on which flag you happen to be waving. It all sums up to countless numbers of ghosts and grieving mothers. And the cacophony of all that gets summed up in a segment featuring voices of every human emotion on 9.11, along with visions that defy any conventional understanding of terror. It isn't the numbers that stagger us, but one lonesome figure flinging himself into certain death. The question is: if we can relate so strongly to that figure, why is it so difficult for us to relate to the dying mother in Burkina Faso, or the torture victim from Chile, or the leg-less man in Bosnia, or the Muslim-American woman whose son is condemned as guilty until proven innocent, or the lonely old man who we usually tend to look away from on the street? Why are so few Americans only able to see the terrorist attacks on 9.11 as an American tragedy and not as an extension of human tragedy that is continuously being recycled? Until people of all nations can share in each other's suffering, we will always be doomed.

The film '9.11' is capped off with a segment which one can accept as an allegory that man's need for righteous indignation and violence is as much a part of his nature as killing is for a snake. The snake gets the last word in though, that there is no such thing as a holy war. Snake smarter than man, eh? I can't say that any of these individual films were great. Some, like that last segment was too clever for its own good, and some made me wish that the filmmaker made better use of his or her eleven minutes. But taken in whole, it is an astoundingly effective experience. I've always wished that a project covering short films from all over the world could be shot in one day- illustrating us in all of our similarities and differences. Using 9.11 as a starting off point is ingenious, since our personal and political tragedies are what brings us together when we're at our best, and what keeps us apart when we are at our worst. To fault this film for any artistic shortcomings is fair ground, but to fault it for its personal and political leanings is to add insult to injury. This film is a wake-up call to see the pain that is all around us and to respond with something other than finger-pointing and jingoistic pride. It's shown us the past and the present and given us the opportunity to reflect on a more promising future, if we so chose.

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21 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

The best kind of movie that can be made about 9/11

Author: RWiggum from Erlangen, Germany
15 January 2003

It was clear right from the beginning that 9/11 would inspire about as many films as World War II and Vietnam combined; however, there is certainly a big danger that most of these films to come are about as good (or rather: bad) as Pearl Harbor. It is a great luck that the first international release about 9/11 is not a cheesy love story starring a bunch of pretty faces, but a collective work of 11 directors from the entire world.

I'm not intending to say that all 11 episodes are great (Youssef Chahine's, for example, has a needless prologue with too many cuts and Shohei Imamura's has a really bizarre ending) or that the segments are in the right order (Imamura's, being the only one not referring directly to the Twin Towers, should open the film, not end it, Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu's should be the last one instead, as it's the most impressive one). But it is an impressing effort and an interesting portrayal of the way other parts of the world react to the collapse of the twin towers.

Consider Samira Makhmalbaf's opening segment, in which an Afghan teachers tries to explain to her pupils what happened in New York and unsuccessfully suggests a one-minute silence. Or Idrissa Ouedraogo's part (which features a bin Laden-double so much resembling the real one that you'll be shocked when you see him, I promise), in which 5 boys muse about good things that can be done with the reward put out on Laden.

There's a surprisingly good (and extremely angry) segment by Ken Loach about a man from Chile talking about what he calls "our Tuesday September 11" - that September 11 in 1973 when their elected president Allende was killed and Pinochet installed his dictatorship - with the generous help from Henry Kissinger and the CIA. This could have become a terrible effort in Anti-Americanism, but it did become a sad tale and shares my recognition for the best segment with Inarritu's (mainly sound impressions and phone calls from the hijacked planes to a black screen, sometimes a few pictures of people falling down the WTC and finally a collapsing tower, ending with the screen brightening up and one question appearing) and Amos Gitai's about a hysterical reporter trying desperatly to get on air after a car bomb exploded in Tel Aviv (hard to recognize, but this one is a masterpiece of choreography).

All these different segments (I haven't mentioned yet Claude Lelouch's about a deaf girl, Danis Tanovic's about a demonstration of the Women of Srebrenica, Mira Nair's - strange, but it takes an Indian director to make the part that is probably most appealing to Western tastes - about a Muslim family whose son is under a terrible suspicion after 9/11 and Sean Penn's with Ernest Borgnine (yes, Ernest Borgnine) as a widower leading the most depressive life one can imagine) add up to a unique film not easy to watch and hard to forget. I am sure this film will be a classic known to everyone thirty years from now. I hope it will be remembered for starting a long tradition of world cinema movies. But, alas, it's far more probable it will be remembered as a one-film-only effort. And as the one of the few 9/11 movies made by then that don't reduce this terrible event to a love story with a happy end just to please the audience.

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17 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

War and media, take a hike! Love your brothers and sisters everywhere!

Author: moira-7 from Stockholm Sweden
14 September 2002

The September 11 film is a separate but collective effort by 11 filmmakers who were given $400.000 each to make a film 11 minutes, 9 seconds and 1 frame. The formula is not new, neither are eternal flames as grave markers.

Each director was given creative license to make their film. The result is 11 viewpoints on a host of angles regarding to the suicide aircraft attack on the World Trade Center. The facts of atrocities committed in war should come as no surprise to anyone from any country. Americans are as aware of the damage of war as other nations. War is not good for anyone. When men play war with guns people are killed, innocently. The most interesting inclusion is the Israeli journalist trying to report on a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv. Her story gets bumped because of what's happening in New York. The story is absurd showing how powerful war and media is, and how far from peace the world is. Showing the film reveals how clever the media is in pitting nation against nation and cultivating a fake sense of patriotism. An aftermath of the film could be, don't buy into hating your brother and sister and show some compassion for all people for all injustice everywhere.

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14 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Eleven variations on the theme of September 11

Author: ( from Portland, Oregon, United States
23 November 2005

French production in which leading film directors from 11 countries were invited to create 11-minute short films conveying their reflections on the events of September 11.

The film segments vary widely in content and quality. Two allude to U.S. complicity in terrorist acts (in Chile against Allende, who died on September 11, 1973, depicted in the segment by British director Ken Loach; and in Palestine by U.S.-backed Israelis, shown in the segment from Egyptian director Youssef Chahine). Two more recall other destructive acts (a Palestinian suicide bombing in Tel Aviv, shot by Israeli director Amos Gitan; the Japanese "holy war" against the west in WW II, by Shohei Imamura).

Ironies abound in several stories. Shadows that darken the New York City apartment of a grieving old man suddenly disappear as the World Trade towers telescope to the ground in Sean Penn's piece, bringing the man momentary joy. But in this bright light he can finally see that his wife is really gone. In Mira Nair's film, based on a real incident, a missing young man, also in New York City, the son of a Pakistani family, is first presumed to be a fugitive terrorist, but later he proves to a hero who sacrificed himself trying to save others in the towers.

There are poignant moments dotted throughout. Loach has his exiled Chilean man quote St. Augustine, to the effect that hope is built of anger and courage: anger at the way things are, courage to change them. Imamura tells us that there is no such thing as a holy war. Samira Makhmalbaf shows a teacher with her very young Afghan schoolchildren, exiled in Iran, trying to tell them about the events that have just transpired in New York. But they are understandably more impressed with a major event in their refugee camp, where two men have fallen into a deep well, one killed, the other sustaining a broken leg. This is comprehensible tragedy on a grand scale for the 6 year olds.

Idrissa Ouedraogo, from Burkina Faso, creates a drama in which the son of an ailing woman spots Osama bin Laden in their village and gathers his buddies to help capture the fugitive terrorist, in order to get the $25 million U. S. reward. He tells his friends not to let any of the adults know their plans, for the older folks would merely waste the money on cars and cigarettes, while he plans to help his mother and others who are sick and destitute.

It is Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (maker of "Amores Perros") who provides by far the most powerful and chilling segment, one that, for the most part, shows only a darkened screen with audio tape loops of chanting and voices and occasional thudding sounds. Brief visual flashes gradually permit us to see bodies falling from the high floors of the towers, and it dawns on us that the thuds are these bodies hitting the ground. The sequence ends with elegiac orchestral music and a still shot, bearing a phrase first shown only in Arabic, then with a translation added: "Does God's light guide us or blind us?" (In various languages with English subtitles) Grade: 8/10 (B+). (Seen on 10/31/04). If you'd like to read more of my reviews, send me a message for directions to my websites.

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20 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

This film might be better called 'Living in Another World'

Author: rushmore24 from Brussels
20 September 2002

Given the nature and origin of the 11 filmakers it is not surprising that this film is at best neutral in its stance towards America. Probably the most 'anti' segment comes from Ken Loach who is definitely not towing the British New Labour party line. Although those events of a year ago are shocking and painful to most Americans and most spectators who saw them unfold live through CNN etc. the majority of the writers and directors choose to show that tragedy is not an American monopoly. Should anybody be surprised that these 3000 deaths are given the same weight elsewhere as the West gives to thousands Tutsi, Tamil, Bosnian, Chilean, Kurdish (need we go on) victims. If this was a 'wake-up' call for the States then it is equally tragic that in the subsequent 12 months the Israel/Palestine impasse is further from a solution while George Bush Jnr. would rather wreak revenge than make the world a safer place. I think many of the contributors wonder where the idealism of the Founding Fathers went, and why America orignally built as a bastion of freedom, justice and tolerance now sees its self-interest paramount while the Third World wonders where the next drink, meal or bullet is coming from.

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10 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

A well-inspired collection of shorts.

Author: jean-no from Paris
24 May 2003

As you may know, the subject here was to ask eleven directors from all over the world to make each a short movie of 11 minutes, 9 seconds and one frame. We have here : - Samira Makhmalbaf (Iran) : what afghan refugee kids can understand to the towers collapsing ? Well, nothing. A great lesson. - Claude Lelouch (France) : a weak plot with a great cinematography... Just imagine a deaf woman living by the WTC who sees without understanding it that her dog barks... Well just see it. - Youssef Chahine (Egypt) : the greatest oriental movie maker has compassion... For everyone : for an us soldier who died ten years ago, for the people in the Wtc but also for a palestinian suicide-terrorist. Maybe the less tender movie towards the us. - Danis Tanovic (bosnia hrzgovia) : good images, makes us travel, for sure... Not a very good plot. Idrissa Oudraogo (Burkina Faso) : from one of the poorest country in the world, a tender and funny story about five boys who want to capture Osama Bin Laden... And they could have done it but nobody believes them when they tell they know where he is. Ken Loach (uk) : September 11, 1973, The Chile entered in a twenty-years long bloody dictature. Thousands of death, tortures : all that was offered to Chile by Henry Kissinger and the CIA, and knowing this changes very much your point of view ! I guess that is because of that particular short that no american movie distribution company accepted to release the movie in us theaters ! Loach forgot to point that 1973 is also the year when the WTC was built ! - Alejandro Gonzalez inarritu (Mexico) : impressing images that we all know too well, and a lot of black screens. I didn't get this one very much, it is more an artist video (to show in an exhibition) than a movie. - Amos Gitaï (Israël) : an absurd ballet of policemen, journalists, etc., around a burning car in Jerusalem. Very well done. - Mira Nair (India) : about the anti-islamic feeling that followed september the 11th. Very good actualy. - Sean Penn (us) : a funny little story that reminds us a fact usualy forgotten, the WTC did have a huge shadow, and some places now have a daylight they never had. - Shohei Imamura (Japan) : a different one. Here there is not even one word about the WTC, and the action takes place at the end of WWII. It has only one message : no war is holy. This short movie gives very deep feelings, but the director aparently would have done better with more than 11 minutes. --- so --- A great movie, a great attempt to take the world's temperature. I love it.

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14 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

Great Idea – Different Views of the Intolerance in the World

Author: Claudio Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
1 October 2005

This collection of eleven short stories in one movie is a great idea, and presents some great segments, but also some disappointing surprises. Based on the tragic event of the September 11th 2001 in the United States of America, eleven directors were invited to give their approach to the American tragedy. The result of most of them is not only an individual sympathy to the American people, but mainly to the intolerance in the world with different cultures and people.

Ken Loach (UK) presents the best segment, about the September 11th 1973 in Chile, when the democratic government of Salvador Alliende was destroyed by the dictator Augusto Pinochet with the support of the USA.

The other excellent segments are the one of Youssef Chahine (Egypt), showing the intolerance in the world, and the number of victims made by USA governments in different countries along the contemporary history; and the one of Mira Nair (India), showing a true story of injustice and prejudice against a Pakistanis family, whose son was wrongly accused of terrorism in USA, when he was indeed a hero.

Some segments are beautiful: Samira Makhmalbaf (Iran) shows the innocent Afghans refugee children preparing an inoffensive shelter against bombs, while their teacher tries to explain to them what happened on the other side of the world; the romantic Claude Lelouch (France) shows the life of a couple in New York nearby the WTC; Danis Tanovic (Bosnia-Herzegovina) shows the effects of their war in a small location and the lonely protest of widows; Sean Penn is very poetic, showing that life goes on; and Shohei Imamura's story is probably the most impressive, showing that there is no Holy War but sadness and disgrace.

The segment of Idrissa Quedraogo (Birkina Faso) is very naive, but pictures the terrible poor conditions of this African nation.

The segment of Amos Gital (Israel) is very boring and manipulative, showing more violence and terrorism.

The segment of Alejandro González Iñárritu is very disappointing, horrible, without any inspiration and certainly the worst one.

My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "11 de Setembro" ("September 11")

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11 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

A movie to move you to tears.

Author: dbborroughs from Glen Cove, New York
12 March 2005

Though the pieces are uneven this collection of 11 short films is truly a moving and human experience. There were some who, in the wake of the emotion on the anniversary of the bombings, took this to be anti-American. I don't think thats the case, even though some parts might be taken that way if you don't look behind the obvious. Ultimately the film is nothing except an attempt by people to express their confusion, sympathy and feelings about what happened. These are stories of people who's worlds have been shaken up by what happened on a Tuesday in September.

As I said this film will move you, probably to tears. Its not always easy to watch, for example the film from Mexico is little more than a black screen with sound, but its effect is such as to lay even the strongest of people low. If you can be strong you really should see this film. It will comfort you and enlighten you and affect you...

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

the one chance to unite the whole world

Author: Lee Eisenberg ( from Portland, Oregon, USA
17 August 2011

"September 11" consists of 11 segments relating to the 9/11 attacks. The only overtly political ones are Ken Loach's, in which a Chilean man reminds Americans that September 11 is also the anniversary of the coup in Chile, and Mira Nair's, about a Pakistani-American family suspected of being terrorists. Most of the segments are basically slice-of-life stories about how people got affected by the attacks: Sean Penn's casts Ernest Borgnine as a man caring for a flower, Amos Gitai's looks at a bombing in Israel, and Samira Makhmalbaf's focuses on some Afghan schoolchildren.

The main thing that I derived from the movie is that, because of the impact that the attacks had on everyone, it was the one chance to unite the whole world. Unfortunately, we all saw what Bush did instead. It should have been a wake-up call, but it became an excuse for extreme ignorance.

Overall, this movie should prompt you to think. Bad things have always been happening, but people do what they can to go on. Is there any hope for our country?

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