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Why the Towers Fell - An Exclusive Investigation into the Collapse of the World Trade Center
Why the Towers Fell - An Exclusive Investigation into the Collapse of the World Trade Center
Actors: Jonathan Barnett, Brian Clark, Gene Corley, Sal D'Agostino, Jan Demczur
Directors: Garfield Kennedy, Larry Klein
Genres: Television, Documentary
NR     2002     0hr 56min

For most people the image of the collapse of the World Trade Center Towers on September 11, 2001, was not only a scene of unforgettable horror, it was a moment of unimaginable consequence. Within days, NOVA began following...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Jonathan Barnett, Brian Clark, Gene Corley, Sal D'Agostino, Jan Demczur
Directors: Garfield Kennedy, Larry Klein
Creators: Garfield Kennedy, Larry Klein, Lisa D'Angelo, Matt Barrett
Genres: Television, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Television, Documentary
Studio: WGBH Boston
Format: DVD - Color,Full Screen,Widescreen - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 06/18/2002
Original Release Date: 04/30/2002
Theatrical Release Date: 04/30/2002
Release Year: 2002
Run Time: 0hr 56min
Screens: Color,Full Screen,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 5
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

Defies physics and logic
H. Hubbard | California | 08/31/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)

"I gave this video two stars because I understand the pressures our society puts on production of main stream video and I don't believe that this was a representation of PBS's own opinion anyway. I am also a fan of PBS and I agree with about 85 percent of what they come out with, but this was one of the exceptions. I would recommend this video only for those who are extensively interested in all aspects of 911 because after all, it is best to see all available information and footage and all sides to the story in order to make an informed opinion. If you are just passively looking for a technical video as to why the towers really fell, then I would not recommend this video because it seems off the mark and here is why, in my opinion...

This particular video left me with the impression that they were on the wrong track as to why the towers fell. This video did not represent PBS, rather it represented mainly the FEMA reports as to why the buildings fell. This video is only a video representation of those reports, and not any independent investigations. I believe if PBS hired their own engineers, they would have come out with different results. Granted, I didn't expect a mainstream video to go 'anti-establishment' on this issue but I did expect something more responsible than just lip-syncing the gov't reports.

The fact that the government spent more money, 43 million dollars to only 3 million tops for 911, investigating whether or not Bill Clinton lied about getting laid, which is what all married men do when they are busted with another woman, then they did on the 911 investigations leads me to believe that the government and FEMA used part-time 'scientists' on a shoe-string budget to begin with.

Simply put, what FEMA wrote in their reports simply does not coincide with what was shown in the news videos and pictures of the events of that day. I am in no way enticed by 'conspiracy' theories, but I refuse to put on a monkey suit and remove my brain simply because I am told to and you know what they say, "a picture says a thousand words". I recommend that everyone look at whatever pictures or video they may have and see for yourself if what we were told matches what you see. Don't ignore your own instincts and senses.

For example, the buildings fell way too fast as if there was no air resistance stopping them. It took 8.5 seconds for the first one, and about 10 seconds for the second. A free-falling object thrown from the top would take about 7-8 seconds to hit the street. There is no logical way that those huge steel structured buildings could crumble down in little pieces so explosively fast at nearly the same speed as a free-falling object. Logic being the key word here. This is simple physics that is learned in high school.

Even if the "pancake" theory were true, it would have taken much longer than 8 or 10 seconds for all that steel to mangle it's way through each floor to the bottom of the heap, meeting resistance at every floor on the way down. The fact that it took only a few seconds to completly disintegrate evenly at the bottom is admittedly a disturbing observation, but nevertheless true. Next time you watch the videos, just time it for yourself and see how long it takes.

It makes no sense to me that for the first time in history, three steel structures were completely destroyed by fire and debris. This defies all common sense and mathimatical truth. Just a couple of months ago in Spain, a steel structured building had a raging fire that lasted overnight, much larger then what was seen at the WTC, and this building was still standing at the end of the next day. In fact, there was still a large maintenance crane still being supported at the top of this building! See the pictures for yourself and come up with your own opinion.

There are people that may say that the jet fuel in some way superheated the structure. As an inspector in the aviation industry I can tell you with 100 percent certainty that aviation fuel that is ignited in a crash of any type burns up within a few seconds after being ignited. All the fires that you see afterwards are normal combustables like wood, paper, desks, or whatever, that was lit on fire by the initial fireball. Normal combustables also do not burn at the temperatures necissary to 'melt' steel either.

In conclusion I would say that PBS should have conducted their own investigation because we all know the governments track record anyway when it comes to telling the truth and again, this along with all the other aspects of what happened on 911 should be independently investigated by some real engineers. Remember, it doesn't matter how many commissions or investigations are set up at great expense to the American people, they're not worth an Enron pension if the people responsible lie to us, falsify documents, or in any way limit an investigation of this magnitude.
Feeling Kind of Uneasy...
Nick Pixel | Atlanta, GA United States | 02/20/2006
(1 out of 5 stars)

"As a software engineer with a strong interest in science (especially physics), I've always enjoyed Nova and respected their objectivity no matter what field of science they focused on. After reading both FEMA's report and the 9-11 Commission report (which includes additional information, not included in FEMA's report, that actually contradicts the theory put forth in this documentary), I began getting very interested. Mainly because their explanations are not only improbable, but in some case, physically impossible. When I found the NOVA DVD, I immediately ordered it hoping to finally have a sound, believable scientific explanation as to why the Twin Towers and WTC Building 7 collapsed that day. Now, having watched it, I feel an uneasiness I can't really describe.

Not only did NOVA parrot the FEMA explanation, but because of the omission of verifiable evidence that contradicts the official theory (example below), the misleading presentation of simple evidence (example below), incorrect facts (example below) and the introduction of uncorroborated, unsourced information (example below), I can safely say that at best, this is an illogical and very unscientific look at the 3 tower collapses that took place on 9/11 and at worst, purposely deceptive misinformation aimed at hiding something that the government doesn't think we Americans can handle. There are points in this DVD where Eagar says things that would actually be roll on the floor laughable if he wasn't a M.I.T. professor trying to scientifically explain how the towers collapsed.

Even more disturbing is the fact that most people who view this "documentary" will get the impression that the theory described is the same theory the 9/11 Commission provided to explain the collapses of the 3 WTC buildings. In fact, this theory was so easily eliminated as possible by physicists, engineers and anyone that took a high school physics course that even the NIST (who wrote the report used by the 9/11 Commission) said it was wrong. Here is a quote from the NIST:

[NIST's findings do not support the "pancake theory" of collapse, which is premised on a progressive failure of the floor systems in the WTC towers... Instead, the NIST investigation showed conclusively that the failure of the inwardly bowed perimeter columns initiated collapse and that the occurrence of this inward bowing required the sagging floors to remain connected to the columns and pull the columns inwards. Thus, the floors did not fail progressively to cause a pancaking phenomenon.]

So, if the NIST, the 9/11 Commission, the government and independent researchers are in agreement that the "pancake" or "progressive collapse" theory described on this DVD is not plausible then what is the official explanation for the complete collapse of the 3 WTC buildings? That's the problem... there isn't one. To date, the NIST hasn't offered an explanation for the collapse of WTC building 7 and their investigation on the collapses of WTC buildings 1 and 2 only focuses on the factors that led to the initiation of collapse and not the sequence of events that led to the complete collapse. By limiting their investigation, it gave them a way to avoid some of the same issues ignored by this film.

[1 example of the omission of evidence: The 911 Commission Report claims the tower collapsed in approximately 10 seconds -- examining any of the video evidence available, anyone can confirm this is accurate but it was actually closer to 10.5 seconds. Anyone familiar with physics - or math - can use a well known equation to determine that the fastest possible time it would take for one of the towers to collapse in a vacuum would be 9.2 seconds - and that is with no air resistance and definitely no resistance from pancaking floors. If you count for acceleration, that means each of the floors with a 1,300 ton capacity had to be weakened to a point where they provided no more resistance than air would. This is impossible and for some reason wasn't addressed on this DVD when I don't see how it could be ignored.]

[1 example of the misleading presentation of evidence: Eagar explains the weak link to be the angle clips that held the floor trusses in place making it seem like clips and bolts were the only things holding the trusses in place when in reality, every 160 inches, the perimeter wall was attached to a 24x18 inch metal plate that was covered with studs and embedded in a concrete slab. In addition a pair of 6 foot steel bars lined with studs were welded to the plate and to the adjacent trusses. These bars were also set in the concrete slab. So, even if the angle clips and therefore the truss weakened to the point of failure, the concrete slab would've still supported the truss. Even assuming the concrete slab provided the least support possible, the truss could not have possibly fallen as indicated by the animation on the DVD and the PBS website. All one has to do is look at any of the many books available on the construction of the towers (preferably one written before 9-11). This is another area where the theory presented in this DVD contradicts the 9/11 Commission report.]

[1 example of incorrect facts: At 1 point the narrator says "Brian Clark, one of only four people to get out from above where United 175 hit the South Tower". The NY Times identified 18 men and women who got out from above where United 175 hit in the article "Fighting to Live as the Towers Died" on 5/26/02.]

[1 example of uncorroborated, unsourced info: At one point Eagar says "The only people I know who weren't surprised (that the towers collapsed) were a few people who've designed high-rise buildings" but he never mentions who. I've have done hours and hours of searching through news reports and websites but have not found any high-rise architects claiming not to be surprised by the collapse (I even emailed NOVA - - but have not received an answer).]

I tried to provide a few examples above since I am giving this DVD such a harsh review (deserves a 0) but there are pages worth. On top of that, they're not even hard to spot. Any American that has access to this DVD has access to enough information to completely discredit this DVD and any investigation it's based on. Hopefully, this joke of an investigation along with the woefully inadequate NIST investigation will make some others as mad as it has made me. I have a right to know the truth of what happened on that day, regardless of what the federal government thinks."
Gripping and informative
A reviewer | Watertown, MA United States | 09/17/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Having seen a few of the 9/11 features that have been released (and some have been quite good), I would have to say that 'Why the Towers Fell' is superior across the board. The fact that it's a NOVA production probably has a lot to do with this. The main premise of the story is that it follows a team of engineers who begin searching for clues that help to explain why the towers fell. The viewer learns by watching this the role that the jet fuel had in the spreading of the fire, as well as how the damage to the building's core impacted the different time frames and manners which the two towers collapsed. With this there are interviews with several structural engineers who give their insights, as well as interviews with three survivors (one of whom escaped from above the crash site in tower two) and their stories.
In addition to the interviews, the film contains a brief history of the building of the World Trade Center, and learn that at the time they had considered the buildings could withstand the impact of the largest jet at the time.If you only purchase one video/dvd about 9/11, this is the one. Powerful, educational, and sensitive to it's material, this is not to be missed."
Pixel and Hubble Effect
J. EARL | Vermont | 11/19/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This video was on the money. The two conspiracy BYU Buffs have to be kidding! The Software engineer knows little of Hardware engineering and Hubble needs to loosen up on his imagination. There was no conspiracy. The buildings and subsequent buildings all collapsed as a result of the overwhelming destruction and weight of the upper portions of each building. The fact that the two World Trade Center buildings collapsed EXACTLY the same way is more than enough proof that there was a structural problem and could not possibly have been a bunch of collaborators setting explosives in all the right places to pancake each building in the same manner. The other buildings were collateral damage from the enormous impact and complete molecularization of both buildings. If they pried open their eyes they would have noticed the rather normal collapsing of these adjacent buildings much like what occurred to buildings during WWII bombing raids. AND---Imagine all those collaborators in total silence till this day!!!"