9/11 (TV Movie 2002) Poster

(2002 TV Movie)

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A must see...not just for Americans
donstuie12 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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This is NOT propaganda
CoenRem17 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.

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prometheus181621 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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A Nutshell Review: (DVD) 9/11 (2002)
DICK STEEL10 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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A documentary in its rawest form, how a documentary should be made.
angels_uk200020 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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It got me thinking
Smells_Like_Cheese10 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.

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A dose of reality
barryweir6 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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Powerful and Moving...Never Too Grisly, Yet the Message Comes Across...
MovieAddict201618 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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The greatest mistake ever filmed
oneloveall15 May 2007
Incredible documentary captured all the frenzied chaos and misery which loomed over NYC on that fateful morning of September 11th. Intense, personal, and completely riveting, 9/11 is perhaps the greatest documentary ever made by accident, which kind of gives it an even greater appeal. Up until that morning, filmmakers Gideon and Jules Naudet had been following around a New York firefighter team, concentrating specifically on one new recruit in a little piece they were shooting dealing with the rigorous training to become a fireman. Out with the team that morning filming yet another simple routine cleanup, Jules lifts his camera up to the sky just in time to record one of the only known images of the first plane hitting the World Trade Center, and from there a simple documentary was no more.

Viewers are given a first hand account of what it was like to be in and around ground zero, as the amazing group of fire-fighters and one profoundly bewildered cameraman attempt to navigate this disaster. Without hesitation, Naudet follows these automatically programmed heroes into the tower while it's entire support crumbles around them. The raw fear of an unknown, impending doom lurks with more viability then any fictional production could ever fathom as we watch less and less become audible and visible for those trapped inside. Nearly as memorable is older brother Gideon's candid capturing of an entire city in the throngs of a larger and more palpable fear then anything they had collectively witnessed. By the time we get to see the second tower collapse, as the cameraman shields himself from apocalyptic debris, we should all but be rinsing the dirt off ourselves from the amazingly up-close footage captured.

Obviously the filmmakers deserve only as much credit as being in the right place at the right time to document such an extraordinary event, though one can only admire the two brothers in their extraordinary adaptation to such an event; in a few desperate minutes we witness them become like the firemen they document- only instead of saving lives they knew they had to save footage, even if it cost them their own safety.

After viewing 9/11, and seeing that it came out in 2002, I feel much more resentment towards Oliver Stone's recent rendition, the big budgeted World Trade Center. Many had criticized the film for ignorantly narrowing down the focus to those two survivors trapped in rubble, and although I enjoyed the movie just fine for the small and sentimental Hollywood focus it brought, 9/11 all but renders his film completely obsolete. Not only will this utterly gripping footage remain the only definitive collection from that day, but the sublime transfer of motives midway ensures that this documentary has all the heart and character needed to never sensationalize the event again.
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Great Documentary
johnnerhead21 August 2007
Made by french brothers Jules and Giddeon Naudet, and narrated by Robert De Niro and Firefighter James Hanlon this is a compelling and heartbreaking tale of how New York's finest shone on it's darkest day. I first saw this when I was a young naive 12 year old, and at that age it still touched me. Knowing how serious 9/11 really was seeing this expanded the whole effect of 9/11. We were finding out who the heroes were, how there everyday lives were composed, and how they put their lives on the line in a situation where most people would just run and save their selves. These brave men put their lives on the line and watching this just increases my admiration for them. Watch if you can,this is the best documentary I have personally ever seen.
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Powerful glimpse of humanity.
Pavel-815 March 2003
Warning: Spoilers
**Warning! Mild Spoilers Ahead!**

(Yes, I realize it's tough to spoil an historical documentary, but I do reveal some of the backstory and methods.)

This is an exceptional documentary not just because of the remarkable footage, but also due to the story behind it. Because the Naudets did not set out to tell the story of 9/11, but rather that of a rookie firefighter, the men's emotions and the viewer's connection with them are more real and powerful than they would be in a standard retrospective.

In a filmmaking sense, "9/11" is textbook. If the events were an actual script, they would be superb, as the characters are established, then thrown a curve to which they must react. This is all the more amazing considering the pain and emotion of the raw footage that the directors had to wade through to piece this story together.

The first portion of the film provides a glimpse of life inside a fire station; specifically, how a rookie assimilates himself into a crew of veterans. That part alone is quite good, and had the documentary been allowed to run its intended course, it probably would have been solid. The brothers appear to realistically portray the process of becoming a NYC firefighter.

Then of course, all hell breaks loose. The chaos following the WTC attacks is vividly seen, as various characters that we have gotten to know are thrust into terrifying situations. Seeing not only the attacks, but also the first-hand reactions is a very moving picture of extreme human emotion.

The aftermath, in which firefighters are discovered to be lost and found, is human drama at its peak. Life and death hang in the balance. Unlike many movies, the viewer not only doesn't know who will live and die, but genuinely cares about them.

The only negative thing I have to say about this is that the Robert DeNiro (whom I like) blurbs were uninformative, unnecessary, and didn't advance the story at all. They were probably added just to attract more television viewers.

Bottom Line: The best documentary I've ever seen. Nonpareil portrayals of raw human emotion and drama. 9.5 out of 10.
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cinema verite at its best
frankiehudson7 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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Pretty powerful stuff!
HumanoidOfFlesh12 September 2002
Very interesting and moving documentary about the World Trade Center tragedy on 11th September 2001.The main theme of it is the heroism of American fire-fighters who tried to rescue as many people as they could.The film is deeply emotional and rather disturbing-many people seen on screen have lost their lives!Recommended.
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A One-Of-A-Kind Documentary Paying Tribute To 9/11
Desertman846 October 2012
Warning: Spoilers
9/11 is a documentary about the September 11 attacks in New York City, in which two planes crashed into the buildings of the World Trade Center from the point of view of the New York City Fire Department.It is an extraordinary record of that fateful day in New York City.Telecast to coincide with the six-month "anniversary" of the horrific terrorist attack on New York's World Trade Center,it was directed by Jules and Gedeon Naudet, and FDNY firefighter James Hanlon.

This one-of-a-kind documentary was originally conceived as a portrait of 21-year-old Tony Benetatos, a firefighter trainee at Manhattan's Duane Street firehouse, located seven blocks from the World Trade Center. By the time filming was finished, brothers Jules and Gedeon Naudet had captured history in the making, including the only image of the first jetliner striking Tower 1, and the only footage from within the tower as it collapsed. This is not, however, a film about the murderous nightmare of terrorism.

It's the ultimate rite-of-passage drama, more immediate and meaningful than any fiction film could be with Benetatos and his supportive colleagues emerging as heroes of the first order involved it became an important journalistic work by simply capturing a moment in time.This documentary will endure forever as a tribute to those, living and dead, who witnessed hell on that sunny Tuesday morning on September 11,2001.
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An incredible document of our darkest hour
Mickey_The_Felch11 September 2003
I was a little skepticle if I should watch this when it was first shown on CBS. I was one of the many people who were in NYC on that day, I was going to school at Hunter College. I didnt want to see all the devistation and carnage again, but like many I was curious to see what this was all about. Tears came to my eyes watching this documentary. All my memories returned and just the intense images were unbelievable. I bought the DVD on the one year anniversary and watched it a few times. How these guys were able to capture this footage was incredible. If you have not seen this documentary, do yourself a favor and check it out. It is obviously depressing and will bring tears to eyes, but it's an incredible document of this countries darkest hour.
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9/11 documents a 10
crazyjaysa16 January 2003
To those who say that this movie deserves anything below the unflaunting grace that it showed, I disagree. This is an amazing documentary about a shocking day.

IMDB asks us to rate this movie. I beg you to consider the fact that the documentary was made. The courage that it took to shoot this film is most notable. We find that the two brothers are split up when that moment happened. They continue to document the bravest of the brave without knowing about their own and eachother's safety. To judge whether it's nobler to shoot a video of that tragedy or to save the lives as those amazing, amazing firefighters did is not mine to answer. I just know that in 30 years, a class full of children will not know one without the other.

I submit a wholehearted 10. This is why the art of filming was created! To capture the natural emotion that real life offers. You can keep your kung-fu junk. Romance is cute. Action will never reach this level. This movie, 9/11, will be timeless in that it did not glorify itself. It didn't have a sneak-peek. It didn't have all of the blatant vanities that a lion's share of the many movies on the many screens blare. It had class, composure, substance, and it had a record of the day that changed the modern face of America and even the world. It spoke of things inescapable to the eye of the camera. Please consider this movie, as it itself proclaims, a stirring tribute to all of those who fell because of the free, beautiful name of America.

How can you give anything less to a movie that shows, not embellishes, the natural bravery of real people acting in unreal times. I love "The Godfather" but "9/11" is forever a different kind of movie as this is now a different kind of world. It is art without question or questions.

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Surely this will become a classic!
CindyH24 November 2002
This was the most visually stunning, moving, amazing and incredible story I've ever experienced. Quite frankly, even those adjectives just cannot describe it. I can't just choose one scene that stood out for me. I suppose if I had to list a few it would be the reactions of the fireman to the crashing sound of jumping victims; the reaction of people trapped in the elevator, who were unaware of what was going on, as they finally emerge to the horrific scene; the shock and disbelief of the onlookers; and finally the silence.

On that day, and even now, I am reminded of Star Wars (1977). Obi-Wan says, `I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.' It is amazing how it is so accurate in its description. There was truly a disturbance in the Force.

This documentary vividly reveals this disturbance. The feelings are so incredibly visual. The anger, the frustration, the shock, the fear, the exhaustion, and the realization of its very magnitude. It's all there. Not a thing is missed.

This is a powerful and most moving documentary and well deserving of the Emmy. Not just because it documents 9/11 but because it is simply everything it should be.

If you plan to watch, be sure to grab a box of tissues. You'll need them. I know that I did.
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Right footage, wrong hands...
kevgill23 October 2002
One criticism that could easily have been levelled at The Blair Witch Project was that it seemed unrealistic that the film-makers would hold onto their cameras and keep filming rather than focus all of their attention on saving their own lives. Clearly though the extraordinary footage recorded in 9/11 proves that this would be an unfair criticism.

Is the documentary film-maker a freak of nature who has an innate desire to record and share his experiences at whatever cost, or a desperate, cynical journalist who will do what it takes to get a scoop? Whatever their motivation, we must be thankful to the two French cameraman who have provided us with this incredible document of the day that changed the world forever. What a shame though, that they handed it over to a production company who have proceeded to sensationalize it to an almost embarrassing extent.

Cliched or not, the statement "it was just like watching a film" was said by virtually everyone who saw the news on September 11th 2001. How ironic then, that this is exactly what this footage has become. The production team have gone to painstaking efforts to provide a narrative, to create drama and evoke emotion. If ever there was an occasion where this manipulation was not necessary then surely the attacks on the World Trade Center was it?

The importance and immediacy of the footage, its very status as a document of an event, is compromised by a variety of external, unnecessary factors : De Niro's narration ("Nothing could have prepared them for what was to happen next!"), obtrusive voiceovers, accompanying music, slo-mos (you never see the real time footage of the first plane hitting the tower) and camera confessions which, particularly in one case, seem scripted and forced. The more the footage is tweaked and fiddled with, the less dramatic and more manipulative it becomes.

The original plan of the French cameramen was to film a rookie fireman through training and his first few months on the job amongst New York's finest. A fairly interesting subject matter, but surely one that should have been scrapped when they eventually recorded unprecedented footage of the most important event in recent history. Yet we still follow Tony the fireman through training, we still hear his hopes and fears about his future, we still see him ingratiating himself with his new unit. Essentially we get to know Tony just so that a cliffhanger can be created - will Tony survive or won't he? We do not see any of his camera confessions until after it is confirmed that he is alive. It's not that I don't care about this (I was of course hoping that he would survive) but more that I shouldn't have had to worry about it. Why did they feel the need to purposely create drama? It really is quite perplexing.

Hence I spent as much time watching 9/11 sighing and shaking my head as I did crying and lamenting the terrible event that was passing before my eyes. I have never seen footage like it and possibly (and hopefully) never will. The terrified eyes of the people in the lobby looking up as human bodies land on the building will send a shiver down my spine until the day I die. I am thankful that I no longer live in ignorance of the true horror that people went through that day.
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Amazing film (minor point, James Hanlon is terrible !!)
lee-wilson29 November 2006
Let me get the bad out of the way first, James Hanlon is absolutely terrible trying to act his descriptions of what was going on with the rookie training and events of the day. Really it is in stark contract to the other fire fighters without acting aspirations who are natural in their delivery.

That said it is an amazing film that is impossible to watch without tears in my eyes. I am an English guy from London but I love New York and have visited many many times before and after September 11th. It is a second home to me and I can't help but feel devastated at the loss of life but also the destruction of part of such an amazing beautiful city. This is the real deal, in with the fire fighters with everything collapsing around them. I am so glad the footage exists to show people how it was on the day. It is a shame that they didn't use any footage of people jumping from the buildings because friends who were there tell me this is such a major part of their memory, it should be included to show future generations just how terrible it really was.

Conspiracy theorists can go to hell by the way.
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Yeah well, it's still a shock, what DO you expect?
PeterJackson11 September 2002
We all now what happened by now on that dreadful date. We've seen it over and over again. That's the difference between the United States and most of the rest of the world. The States got live coverage of what happens. So we all got to see the plane crashes in New York a year ago, and that's what made it even tougher to swallow: we were confronted by it, in the face terrorism, no denying it. Not far away in some obscure Yugoslavian, Asian or African country, but in what some people believe is the capital of the Western world. Well, you can't deny the cruelness of these acts, you can't think of a simple word of sympathy for the deeds of these men, that's for sure. Once more religion has proved to be just a means to an end in some people's hands. But as I said: we all now that by now, and the world remembered this day today.

The IMDB asks me to give a score for this documentary by the French brothers Naudet. Well, I can't give a score on content, since these men merely registered what happened. Their amazing experience as witnesses to this day, amidst of all, is remarkable and so is the fact that they went there and came back to put it all on film. But that too, I can't judge, on a film score basis. What's left is the putting together of the images, the editing and the narration. And that is, well, pretty ordinary. For instance, the tone at the beginning of the documentary is all wrong. We get to hear a voice-over talk the same way as it's done for trailers for big Hollywood blockbusters and Robert de Niro narrates as if he were presenting a show. At a certain moment I even felt as if I was watching something that they better not had shown. I saw the images, and yeah, they still had an impact, how could they not? But it wasn't the same as when you were watching this a year ago. No, it felt like a neatly put-together documentary about the attacks on September 11th. And it didn't feel as real as it should've been by far.

Why the terrible voice-over, why the narration by Robert De Niro, why telling what happened all over again...why not simply show the images and let us think about em, let us admire the braveness and understand the fears of those firemen and all the other people involved? Why shove it down our throat as if we couldn't understand what happened any other way? What DID we actually learn from watching this film? Something we didn't know yet?

Well, the only thing I can say is that I hope there won't be a film about this too, because I'm pretty sure what the tone of such a movie will be. And yeah,it would be a big blockbuster too. And yeah, producers will say that the object is not to make money but to remember, as they did with this documentary. But the claws of Hollywood are already firmly put around this film, don't let this happen again. And that goes for everything concerning the film. As a documentary: 6/10, tops. As an account of that day: uncomparable and timeless. Just remember that there's more to it than is shown. I hope children will learn that for years to come.
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Michael_Elliott29 February 2008
9/11 (2002)

**** (out of 4)

Powerful documentary about a fire crew that was at the World Trade Centers just as all hell broke loose. I guess this here is the most popular documentary of that day but I just now got around to it. As usual, everything we see going on down there is still shocking and it still seems like it was just a bad dream. The noise of the bodies hitting the ground is a sound you won't get out of your head.

There have been countless documentaries done on 9/11 and I find all of them incredibly hard to watch and this one here is no different.
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Very good movie, one to be seen
beth_119111 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The French Naudet brothers did something nobody else did, they had a video camera the day that this tragedy happened. They were in Building #2, when you could see papers drifting down, people hitting the ground from jumping from such a height.

I mean it goes as far as when both buildings collapsed they went running, their camera was still running, when the white dust covered them, they found a shop doorway and got inside, but all this footage is real and I think they did a fantastic job of capturing it for us.

Ten stars goes to the Naudet brothers that filmed this extraordinary film that I watch every 9/11 so I'll never forget what this country went through. I believe if I remember right, it shows the first death of the priest of the firefighters, while he was being carried to the church and his honorable funeral.
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This is arguably the most infallible documentary footage of all time
foodstampcharlie29 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Great documentary about the lives of NY firefighters during the worst terrorist attack of all time.. That reason alone is why this should be a must see collectors item.. What shocked me was not only the attacks, but the"High Fat Diet" and physical appearance of some of these firefighters. I think a lot of Doctors would agree with me that,in the physical shape they were in, some of these firefighters would NOT of made it to the 79th floor carrying over 60 lbs of gear. Having said that i now have a greater respect for firefighters and i realize becoming a firefighter is a life altering job. The French have a history of making great documentary's and that is what this is, a Great Documentary.....
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Something you never forget
jennycliffhanger8631 December 2010
I was a freshman in high school when the world changed on September 11. Six months later when I saw this documentary aired on TV, I was still having trouble digesting everything that had happened. It helped to bring a sense of closure to me, and I was able to grow from it.

What sets this documentary apart from other documentaries is that it does not focus just on the heroes of that day. It focuses on what brought them to that point, what pushed them to do what the average citizen would not. This was that they ran into the fire, probably knowing that they were going to die, to help people they didn't know. That kind of courage leaves a mark on everyone which is part of the reason why we all remember the events and heroes of that day.
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Narration in documentary
missl_200427 January 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I've read most of the comments here. I came to the conclusion that almost everybody agrees that 9/11 is a shocking piece of history. There are a few who think that the added narrative is weak and

I agree that the narrative is weak and unnecessary. About two brothers finding each other back after the disaster and the cliff hanger about Tony. But I don't think narration is unnecessary. Like I lot of theorists I think that our own lives are narrations. We are living and making our own autobiography. So if we tell about our lives this is always in the form of narration. We don't sum up facts like: Birth, Childhood, High School etc. We create a story about our live.

Because we are familiar with stories, we want to put history in a story as well. Because in the form of a story we can identify ourselves. We can better understand the things happened in history when its told in the form of a story. So that's the purpose of adding a story in documentary. The story is weak, so be it, but we understand whats going on. If it was me out there I would be worried sick about my brother.

And the second point, making a blockbuster movie about it. True, it's been to recent to come up with a big movie about 9/11. Though, there have been a few about the subject, but none of them like this documentary. But what if there will be a movie in about 5 years? I agree it is wrong trying to make a lot of money out of 9/11. But I also agree that movies are one of the best way to tell history. How many movies about the World war 2 have we seen? If I had not seen these movies my view of the WW would me totally different. I remember seeing Schindlers List, and I cried for an hour during class. Movies give you a good image of the things that happened in history and although it is fiction it contributes to the memory of the disasters and the casualties.

So my point: telling stories is not always bad, it makes us identify with the story, and makes us never forget what happened.
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