This simple, extraordinary documentary (a version of which was originally broadcast on CBS) contains all the familiar and unforgettable footage you might want (if that's even the right word) to help you remember forever what it felt like to watch the World Trade Center attacks of September 11, 2001. But this film has something you can't get anywhere else: footage from inside Tower One after the attacks.
Made by two French documentary-makers who were working on a film about a rookie fireman stationed just seven blocks from the WTC, "9/11" provides a heart-stopping insider's look at the disaster. The only known footage of the first plane strike was taken by these filmmakers while on a call with the firemen, who immediately leave for the Trade Centers.
The two Frenchmen (brothers Jules and Gedeon Naudet), with a camera each, then stick close to two groups of firefighters. One ends up in the lobby of Tower One, capturing terrifying sights and sounds (including what the Tower 2 collapse felt like from right next door) that can't help but bring back that terrible sensation we all had in the pits of our stomachs that day -- and should never forget.
Cut together with extensive interviews with the firefighters (everyone from this firehouse survived) and the filmmakers, "9/11" is a powerful, chilling, moving document of the horrors of that day. If there's anything wrong with the film, it's only that some of the interviews feel rehearsed. "Looking back on last July, it wasn't just a different time," one firefighter says with a deliberate dramatic pause, "it was a different world."
NOTABLE BONUS MATERIAL
The DVD also includes several longer, more in depth interview segments without WTC footage.
1.85:1 ratio; Dolby digital
Shot on inexpensive digital video cameras, which aids the immediacy. But the image isn't immaculate.
DVD RATING: ***1/2
Note: The distributor is donating a portion of sales from the film to victims' charities.
-- By Rob Blackwelder