IMDb > Beslan: Three Days in September (2006) > Reviews & Ratings - IMDb
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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Very Comprehensive

Author: crashburn from United States
21 August 2006

This is a very compelling documentary of an overlooked tragedy/story. Given the time frame the filmmakers had to deal with (80 minutes) I feel the movie gives the clearest picture of this terrorist act to date. This doc does not throw old pictures and facts at you, but actually advances the story. If you pay attention you'll see unique video that would never make the nightly news. Actually this story got lost in U.S. domestic news because of a rash of hurricanes and the presidential election. Kudos must be given to the filmmakers for their resourcefulness in obtaining new material, utilizing it, and exposing this story to a wider audience. Dealing with the complicated story of Beslan, and the larger story of Russia and Chechnya... and the politics of the surrounding areas is daunting. To add more about the politics of the Chechans, and their nationalist push that pre-dates world war II, would be overwhelming. To start adding context dealing with the nitty gritty of Chechnya and Stalin did would only complicate the story to the point that viewers would likely turn it off. It would also take the emphasis off the actual story... the siege at Beslan. I can't deny that what is going on in Chechnya is horrible, Russia should be held accountable. But given the amount of screen time I think the film strikes a balance. The attentive viewer will get just enough background information for perspective, and will also see in detail the events surrounding the hostage siege and botched rescue.

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

My Thoughts-Three Days in September

Author: Halo882 from United States
29 May 2006

My thoughts for Three Days in September are endless. I am very emotional about it. I feel so much sorrow and pain for those who lived in the town of some 34,000 people. Such terror should not happen to anyone. Julia did a wonderful job speaking. I know in her heart she had to be emotional about reading for this. Those others that were included in the speaking should be commended for their bravery for they all went through a hell of a battle that not one person in the entire world should have to go through. God Bless them and their families and all of the others. I am wondering if the school has been redone? Are there children attending there now?

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Great documentary

Author: reapercrew from United States
13 March 2008

334 civilians killed. 186 of them children....over 400 wounded in all and taken to the hospital, children forced to do things that I'm not typing here...A well made, but dark documentary showing the brutality of the Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev and his terrorist group with great footage captured including even the "Black Widows" or female Chechen terrorists who strap the explosives to themselves and detonate it to kill those around them. - (think back to the 2002 Moscow theatre crisis)

The film also shows the how poorly the Russians reacted to the situation with disinformation and being completely unprepared. For example, the school gym was wired with explosives and mines hung from the basketball goals. There was not one sapper (mine engineer) in the entire Russian reaction force.

A copy of the letter they sent to Putin at the time:

"From Allah's slave Shamil Basayev to President Putin.

Vladimir Putin, it wasn't you who started this war. But you can finish it if you have enough courage and determination of de Gaulle. We offer you a sensible peace based on mutual benefit by the principle—independence in exchange for security. In case of troops withdrawal and acknowledgement of independence of Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, we are obliged not to make any political, military, or economic treaties with anyone against Russia, not to accommodate foreign military bases on our territory even temporarily, not to support and not to finance groups or organizations carrying out a military struggle against RF, to be present in the united ruble zone, to enter CIS. Besides, we can sign a treaty even though a neutral state status is more acceptable to us. We can also guarantee a renunciation of armed struggle against RF by all Muslims of Russia for at least 10 to 15 years under condition of freedom of faith. We are not related to the apartment bombings in Moscow and Volgodonsk, but we can take responsibility for this in an acceptable way.

The Chechen people is leading a nation-liberating struggle for its freedom and independence, for its self-protection rather than for destruction or humiliation of Russia. We offer you peace, but the choice is yours.

Allahu Akbar


30 August"

Julia Roberts does the VO. It is an eye-opening story and makes one wonder "could it happen again and where?"

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9 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

A powerful but somewhat one-sided look at the human cost of terrorism

Author: benjamin-hamburger from United States
25 May 2006

This documentary is a heart-rending look at the damage caused by the September 2004 attack on School No. 1 in Beslan, in North Ossetia, Russia. For three days, 1 Sept to 3 Sept, Chechnyan rebels took hostage over 1200 school children and parents in their own school. The standoff ended with a massive shoot out with Russian Spetsnaz troops and militia which ended up killing 331 hostages, including over 170 children.

The documentary is a very emotional and powerful look at the impact of the incident on the town and populace of Beslan. It consists of a series of interviews with survivors, relatives of hostages, onlookers, Russian soldiers, and even the primary negotiator between the Russian government and the hostage takers, as well as a lot of primary video sources, taken from cameras of both hostages, onlookers outside the school, and most eerily, the Chechnyan hostage takers themselves. The focus is on the stories of the hostages inside the school, mostly adult hostages who had children among the hostages. The interviews are powerful--the interviewees express a lot of pain and emotion, but in a very tasteful way. There is intentional tugging of heartstrings by the filmmakers and the narration (done by Julia Roberts), when the subject could stand alone. But overall, the documentary succeeds at what it seems to be intended at--memorializing the dead and injured hostages.

My larger problem with the film is that I feel what it intends at isn't sufficient--it's a bit one-sided. While it strongly displays the physical and mental pain and torture that resulted from the hostage situation, it doesn't do a lot to give context to the event. Even for the most informed of Americans, the Beslan hostage crisis we saw only in the news--giving the human story is necessary. But for the unfortunate, uninformed majority of Americans, knowing the context of the situation is more important to developing an understanding of what happened. It mentions only briefly the war in Chechnya, and certainly doesn't examine the atrocities that the Russian army has committed against Chechnyan civilians. Although by no means do I want to justify the actions of the hostage takers, failing to understand in detail what motivated them to go to such extremes is absolutely vital. The filmmakers don't go to many lengths to examine the perpetrators of this crime, even mistaking the fact that many of the hostage takers were not in fact Chechnyan. (Many were radical Muslims of other nationalities.) Toward the end, they air without contradiction the assertion of a survivor that the hostage takers are less than human, animals, beyond reason and emotion. Of course, this avoids the serious question that mass terrorism raises--what is it that allows reasoning and emotional humans to put aside all that in order to kill on such a huge level? Asserting that the hostage takers weren't human doesn't advance our understanding of the Beslan attacks, the war in Chechnya, or terrorism at large.

Lastly, in its haste to show the pain of the Russian victims and demonize the criminals, the film also minimizes the most controversial questions about Beslan, namely, the questions about the Russian government during the siege. The concept is mentioned only in passing, and for the most part the Russian troops are portrayed as competent, self-sacrificing servants of the people. The most controversial moment during the siege was the moment on the third day when an explosion rocked the school, precipitating the actual shoot-out which resulted in most of the casualties. The cause of that explanation is subject to a lot of debate in Russia and internationally--many people believe that a Russian army sharpshooter shot one of the hostage takers who was standing on a trigger to a bomb, designed to explode precisely if the subject is killed. The movie doesn't even ask the question what caused the explosion, even though it was the event which brought the disaster to its final bloody culmination.

Overall this film is a powerful memorialization of the victims of the Beslan school hostage crisis. However, most of the world understands that terrorism is horrible. This documentary may act as an introduction to a discussion of the Beslan crisis, but it is too narrow and one-sided in scope to stand alone in its coverage.

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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Brilliant film about the Russian 9/11

Author: lastliberal from United States
23 December 2007

It is hard to take a moment and stop to realize that many people in the World are not celebrating this time of year. This brilliant documentary narrated by Julia Roberts, and told by the survivors of the September 2002 tragedy in Beslan is well worth the time for those who believe we are all in this world together.

Just as we lost people on 9/11, the Russians also lost almost 200 children, with a couple of dozen more made orphans, in this terrible terrorist massacre by Chechen rebels.

Whether it be Darfur or Russia or New York, there are people who are taking from us every day. Until we are all safe, then none of us are safe.

Many are celebrating the birth of the Prince of Peace this month. This film is a stark reminder that there is no peace.

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