Remembering 9/11 (DVD Review)16 Aug, 2011 By: John Latchem
With the 10th anniversary of the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, almost upon us, we can expect no shortage of products and ceremonies commemorating the event and those most affected by it.
Remembering 9/11 is hardly one of the more groundbreaking documentaries in that regard, but it’s effective enough at rekindling some of the emotional resonance from that day. The philosophy here is simple yet effective, as it presents stock footage from the attacks, accompanied by narration recapping the events.
To its credit, the documentary never gets political, other than assigning the blame squarely where it belongs: al-Qaida. To that end, Remembering 9/11 spends its first 20 minutes or so delving into the terrorists‚ history and motive for the attack. So we get a primer on the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and how Osama Bin Laden helped organize a resistance, which led to the formation of Al Qaeda. We are then told Bin Laden offered to liberate Kuwait from Iraq in 1991, but when Saudi Arabia chose to join the U.N. coalition with the United States, allowing American troops on holy Muslim lands, Bin Laden hatred of America became radicalized.
Most of this we already knew, so Remembering 9/11 rehashes a lot of facts that are widely known and fills in the blanks with a few new interviews and a slew of stats (more than 3,000 children lost a parent, and their average age was 8; the financial damage was estimated at more than $11 trillion; 1,616 families issued a death certificate without a body to bury).
We get reflections from professors and police personnel who dealt with Mohamed Atta without realizing he was capable of leading the suicide attacks on the World Trade Center. We get interviews with some of the survivors, such as Brian Reeves, a security guard in the North Tower who survived after being blown out the building by a fireball, suffering burns on 40% of his body.
We learn about Les Sweeting, a British man who wandered shirtless through the dust in search of his wife and daughter, whom he believed were in the buildings when they collapsed. They had managed to escape from the danger zone to Staten Island, and the family was reunited the next day. Sadly, he died five years later.
Then there’s Monica Iken, whose met her husband, Michael, on Sept. 11, 1999, and married him a year later. Michael was a bonds broker on the South Tower, and phoned his wife to tell her he was safe after the first plane hit. He hung up shortly before the second plane hit his building, and was never heard from again. Monica went on to form The September Mission, a foundation dedicated to building a memorial park to the victims at Ground Zero.
Remembering 9/11 doesn’t really delve into the aftermath of the attacks or the wars to come, though it does note that the chemicals spewed from the wreckage of the Twin Towers caused medical conditions that claimed victims months and years later, and carved severe psychological scars that might never go away.