7.9/10
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62 user 54 critic

One Day in September (1999)

The Palestinian terrorist group Black September holds Israeli athletes hostage at the 1972 Summer Olympic Games in Munich.

Director:

Kevin Macdonald

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ON DISC
Won 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael Douglas ... Himself - Narrator (voice)
Ankie Spitzer Ankie Spitzer ... Herself
Jamal Al Gashey Jamal Al Gashey ... Himself
Gerald Seymour Gerald Seymour ... Himself
Axel Springer Axel Springer ... Himself
Gad Zahari Gad Zahari ... Himself
Shmuel Lalkin Shmuel Lalkin ... Himself
Manfred Schreiber Manfred Schreiber ... Himself
Walter Troger Walter Troger ... Himself
Ulrich K. Wegener Ulrich K. Wegener ... Himself
Hans-Dietrich Genscher Hans-Dietrich Genscher ... Himself
Schlomit Romajo Schlomit Romajo ... Herself
Magdi Gahary Magdi Gahary ... Himself
Zvi Zamir Zvi Zamir ... Himself
Dan Shilon Dan Shilon ... Himself (as Dan Shillon)
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Storyline

The 1972 Munich Olympics were interrupted by Palestinian terrorists taking Israeli athletes hostage. Besides footage taken at the time, we see interviews with the surviving terrorist, Jamal Al Gashey, and various officials detailing exactly how the police, lacking an anti-terrorist squad and turning down help from the Israelis, botched the operation. Written by Jon Reeves <jreeves@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some graphic violent images | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Sony Pictures Classics

Country:

Switzerland | Germany | UK

Language:

English | German

Release Date:

24 August 2000 (Australia) See more »

Also Known As:

En dag i september See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$15,149, 19 November 2000, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$155,158, 25 February 2001
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Stereo

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Director Kevin MacDonald finally managed to persuade the surviving terrorist Jamal Al Gashey to talk on camera after eight months of fitful negotiation and numerous aborted meetings in secret locations. Al Gashey specified certain conditions prior to their actual meeting in an Arab country insisting MacDonald was to travel alone, not to inform anybody where he was going and provide a wig and moustache for Al Gashey to disguise himself when in front of the camera. The interview piece used in the documentary was filmed by somebody Al Gashey trusted. See more »

Quotes

Michael Douglas - Narrator: With the help of members of the East German team the terrorist leaders had entered and studied the Olympic village in the days prior to the attack. Now they headed straight for the Israeli men's quarters.
Michael Douglas - Narrator: The negotiators knew nothing about the terrorists except what they saw. Three were visible at any one time. Issa, the leader, his face blackened with shoe polish. Tony, second in command, usually at the first floor window wearing a cowboy hat. And another man guarding the balcony door.
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Alternate Versions

Israeli version narrated by Rafi Ginat, and includes updated information regarding the claims of the families against the German authorities in the subtitles at the end of the film. See more »

Connections

Featured in The 50 Greatest Documentaries (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Short Piece 11
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User Reviews

The Germans Bungled Everything
30 December 2000 | by simulandSee all my reviews

(Kevin MacDonald, 1999, 92 min.) Documentary about assassination of Israeli athletes by Palestinian terrorists at 1972 Olympic games. Noteworthy for exclusive interview with only surviving terrorist, who is in hiding "somewhere in Africa." Composed of interviews with German authorities involved in the episode, TV clips, etc, and narrated by Michael Douglas.

Interestingly, East Germans colluded with the terrorists, showing them around the Olympic village prior to the operation. Truth stranger than fiction. The ineptitude of the West Germans is astounding. Imagine paunchy German cops, clad in athletic sweats, trying to pass themselves off as Olympic athletes, their automatic weapons in plain sight, positioning themselves to launch a "surprise" attack on the apartment in which the hostages are being held while their every move is being televised worldwide; it's only at the very last minute, when they realize the terrorists too are watching them on TV, that they call the raid off. This is the only attempt they make to storm the apartment building.

Even after an Israeli's bullet-ridden naked body has been tossed out a window down to the sidewalk below, the games continue; the International Olympic Committee refuses to stop them; athletes are sunning themselves within sight of the hostage standoff; and, of course, the media has descended like a horde of flies ready to feast on a carcass. Israeli intelligence, the Mossad, offers to send a trained anti-terrorist unit, but the Germans, who have no such attack force of their own, who are in disarray, disorganized, and frankly at a loss as to what to do, refuse.

The terrorists are taken to a nearby airport in helicopters to a waiting jet. German cops, who are stationed in the jet and disguised as a flight crewm at the very last second, just as the helicopters are about to land, chicken out and abandon their posts. The head of Mossad, who by now has joined the Germans at the airport, is incredulous at the lack of professionalism of the whole ambush; also, he accuses the Germans of taking the hostages out of the Olympic village just so the games can continue. Sharp shooters positioned at the airport are not in radio communication with the outside or among themselves, have no idea of how many terrorists there are, and end up shooting each other and killing one of the helicopter pilots who has broken free. The coup de grace, the vilest insult to injury, comes in the aftermath of this debacle: Three Palestinian terrorists survive the gun battle at the airport and are taken into custody. Within days a nearly empty German airliner bound from Beirut to Frankfurt is hijacked by Arab terrorists who demand and obtain the release of the 3 terrorists in custody. One of these 3 later recounts how the whole thing was a setup: the German government colluded with the Arabs to stage the hijacking simply to rid themselves of the captured terrorists and to avoid the embarrassment of a trial.


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