9/11 – The Filmmakers’ Commemorative Edition [VHS]

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  1. D. Movahedpour "doeadear" says:
    228 of 233 people found the following review helpful:
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Perhaps the best documentary on 9/11, February 3, 2003
    By 
    D. Movahedpour “doeadear” (CA United States) –
    (REAL NAME)
      

    This film is the “accidental documentary” made by French brothers and film makers, Gedeon and Jules Naudet. The brothers were making a film about a young fire fighter during his 9-month probationary period. With the help of their friend, firefighter James Hanlon, there were given nearly unlimited access to all the goings-on at the firehouse, Engine 7, Ladder 1, on Duane Street in Lower Manhattan, less than ten blocks from the World Trade Center. Little did the brothers know that they would be the witness to history, just three months after they began their project.

    Gedeon is the older brother, and the avid film maker. But, by the time of 9/11, an additional camera had been purchased for Jules for “camera practice.” Jules is with the Battalion Chief, Joseph Pfeifer, and 13 other fire fighters from the house, filming as they investigate an odor of gas at 8:46 am on Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001. They are standing in the path of the plane as it flies over and hits Tower 1, and Jules is filming the entire time. His is the only footage of the attack on Tower 1. The reaction of the firefighters is immediate, as they take off for the Trade Center, a place they previously would visit up to five times a day on a shift. They know the Trade Center perhaps better than any other firehouse in Manhattan. But, nothing has prepared them for this.

    What transpires is the only known footage of the struggle of the firefighters inside Tower 1 as they try to figure out what to do in the chaos and confusion. They had seen it all, they thought, but this was something they hadn’t prepared for. The film is very sensitively edited, so you don’t see the blood or the gore or the bodies, you only hear about them. The focus in this film is on the brotherhood of the firemen, what was going on in the towers while the rest of the world looked on, helplessly. How men who make less money than half of the City are the ones who rush into the burning buildings, and who do not hesitate to lay down their lives while saving others. It is the tale of a true brotherhood, of men who are doing jobs handed down to them from generations before. It is more than a story of 9/11, it is the story of the world of New York fire fighters.

    Before 9/11 happens, we see the inside of the firehouse, how the young “Probie”, Tony Benatanos, is brought into the fold, how the firemen interact and eat together and needle each other. The French brothers did not set out to make a documentary on 9/11, certainly, but fate dealt a hand. This is the most extensive, mind-boggling film, and the DVD contains extended interviews with the firemen, who have seen so much, but still seem to be in shock about what they saw that day.

    James Hanlon narrates this film beautifully, and the brothers are interviewed describing that terrible day. The firemen are truly amazing, the footage is incredible, and, if you only see one documentary on this horrible day, this is the one to see. It truly portrays the victims, the heroes, and the survivors sensitively, honestly, and shockingly. It is unforgettable.

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  2. Patrick L. Randall "Big Irish Guy" says:
    141 of 146 people found the following review helpful:
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Faithful and respectful record of that horrible day., August 19, 2002
    By 
    Patrick L. Randall “Big Irish Guy” (Silver Spring, MD) –
    (VINE VOICE)
      
    (REAL NAME)
      

    Words still fail to properly express the absolute horror endured by all who experienced 9/11, either firsthand or over the television. This documentary of that awful day, filmed by French filmmakers Gedeon and Jules Naudet, provides a medium where viewers can relive, but yet, come to terms, with the horrors of that day. Given the enormous wealth of footage taken that day, it was only a matter of time before that material was put together into some kind of video record. When word came down that, in early March, documentary footage shot by the Naudet brothers would be broadcast without interruption on CBS, I felt both apprehension and anticipation. I was in anticipation because I needed to see it in order to come to terms in my own mind with the events that happened. I was concerned about the prospect of this documentary because there were chances that it could be superficial and/or exploitive, which would have been a tremendous shame. Much to my relief, the Naudets’ “9/11” special was nothing like that. It presents both a factual and honorable record of that day.

    The circumstances by which the Naudet brothers ended up filming on the front line of the worst U.S. disaster since Pearl Harbor were quite interesting. The filmmakers, who got the only video footage from inside the WTC after the attack, were initially in New York to film a documentary about the journey of a fireman from young academy recruit to tested veteran. Interviews with the recruits of the FDNY academy lead the Naudets to select Tony Benetatos as the subject of their film. He seemed to embody the idealism and determination that were crucial to a member of the FDNY. With the assistance of firefighting friend, James Hanlon, the Naudets were able to follow Benetatos as he was assigned to Hanlon’s firehouse, Engine 7, Ladder 1. Throughout the summer, they tracked him as he was getting educated in the ways of being a fireman. Right up until the evening of September 10th, the documentary footage was of a jovial, albeit uneventful, nature. That would all change the next morning. As Gedeon Naudet was the more accomplished camera man, Jules would frequently go out with the firemen on any call in order to perfect his camera technique. This morning, Jules went out early with Battalion Chief, Joseph Pfeifer, and several others to investigate a gas leak 10 blocks south of the WTC. What happened next was caught on film and among the most chilling images anyone has every seen. Something seemed to roar overhead and everyone looked up to see commercial airliner flying dangerously low. A few seconds later, every one’s gaze (as well as the camera’s) was trained on the North Tower of the WTC, and all watched in horror as plane slammed into its upper floors. This IS the only known footage of the first plane hitting. Instantly, Pfeifer and the rest of the firemen call in disaster and proceed directly to the site, with Jules tagging along with the permission of Chief Pfeifer. Everyone knows the sequence of events that happened next, with second plane crashing and both towers coming down. However, it is because of Jules Naudet’s camera work that people have an archival record of the firefighters coming to terms with gravity of the events that have occurred and the grim determination with which they were dedicated the resolving it.

    There are criticisms and protests about this documentary having been released, but it must be understood that almost any footage of that day would be subject to controversy. Too many people were affected by it and the wounds and emotions are still very raw. The Naudets deserve much credit for how they handled the filming and the editing of this footage into the “9/11” documentary. There were many chances to be exploitive and show far too much graphic footage of that attack. Yet, the Naudets avoided doing so on each and every occasion. Upon entering the North Tower, screams were heard to Jules right. There were several people on fire, having been engulfed by the jet fuel that shot down the elevator shaft. This footage was not edited out of the documentary because it was never filmed in the first place as Jules thought it would have been disrespectful to do so. The sounds of the rest of that morning told the tale of the horrors that were not necessary capture on video. Jules kept focused on the actions of the firefighters working feverishly to control the situation and begin rescuing people. The loud, almost bomb-like crashes, happened with terrifying regularity and signaled another person who had chosen to die by their own hand and jump rather than let the fire get them. Each time, the firefighters looked up and cringed, because they knew what it meant. At no time, though were images of the people falling or the aftermath on the ground filmed. Of course, there was no getting around the horror of the next image: the firefighters frantically scrambling out of the lobby as…

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