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9/11: The Falling Man (2006)

The Falling Man is a documentary that examines one of the many images that were circulated by the press immediately after the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001. The ... See full summary »

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The Falling Man is a documentary that examines one of the many images that were circulated by the press immediately after the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001. The image in question can be seen above on the cover of the disc. It shows a man plummeting headfirst to the ground, having leapt from the burning towers. After touching on the events of the day and how the nation reacted, the program focuses specifically on this image, the photographer who took it, its subsequent circulation, the public's reaction to it and why it was later deemed UN-newsworthy. Written by waomdb.blogspot.com

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16 March 2006 (UK)  »

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Gwendolyn Briley-Strand: Did that person have so much faith that he knew God would catch him, or was he so afraid to experience the end up there? That's something I'll never know, because that happened to him.
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An interesting and naturally emotionally involving documentary
14 June 2006 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

When two planes hit the World Trade Centre on 11/9/01 thousands lost their lives in a variety of ways. The media was full of images fed live on television and also in the newspapers; one set of images more than any other caused controversy and universal condemnation – those of people falling or jumping. Over the next few days these images were removed and replaced with more images of the heroic response, of the American spirit in evidence – fire fighters, policemen and such. This documentary looks at the fate of those trapped by the flames who were faced with a horrible decision and the identity of the famous and terrible image of the falling man as taken by Richard Drew.

Even years later it is hard to view images of 11th September without welling up. It is true that the civilian victims of that day are no less worthy of our remembrance than the civilians killed by the coalition in Iraq, but personally I have never seen mass slaughter unfold before my eyes in the same way that it did on this day. We can debate about whether or not our world should continue to be shaped by it years later (Afghanistan, Iraq, erosion's of civil rights etc) but this was not what was going though my head as I watched this film. Instead what I was thinking about was the people, their fate, their choices and their lack of options.

I remember the pictures the next day in the UK and recall reports of people jumping or falling to their deaths and I do recall their noticeable absence in the days after the event. So I was intrigued by this documentary because it is not something that the media-savvy US Government want us to think about, even though it is as real as the firemen who gave up their lives trying to save others. In my own opinion those who think that the "jumpers" were not heroic in their own way simply has not thought about the situation they were in or what they themselves would do in that situation. This film spends the first half getting to grips with the attack itself and then the second half dealing with the investigation into who the man in Drew's photo was. The first half is naturally emotionally impacting and as disturbing as I've always found the footage and of 11th September. It is moving to hear the relatives talk and was tastefully done. The second half steps away from the day well and it is interesting and a worthy investigation.

The film maybe doesn't deliver it that well but it is still engaging and does pull out a deeper meaning to its existence rather than just seeking out tabloid headlines. The focus on real people makes it work and is a good look at a subject that nobody else in the media seemed to want to address. I suppose in this regard the film is well worth a look simply because everyone else dropped the subject and focused on the images that make for a better feeling (the heroes and the heroic deaths) rather than those that died in a way that was much more difficult to deal with.

Overall this was a good documentary that deserves a look because of its subject and also because of the sensitive manner in which it deals with it. It isn't fun of course but it deserves to be seen for what it does well.


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