THIS HEARTFELT DOCUMENTARY WAS CREATED AND PERSONALLY SUPERVISED BY THE AWARD-WINNING FRENCH FILMMAKERS JULES & GEDEON NAUDET WHO SIMPLY SET OUT TO MAKE A MOVIE ABOUT A ROOKIE NEW YORK CITY FIREMAN FROM ENGINE 7, LADDER 1 ... more »AND ENDED UPFILMING AN EVENT THAT CHANGED OUR LIVES FOREVER.« less
Tina G. from PORT ROYAL, PA Reviewed on 10/3/2013...
I have the original airing which I recoded on VHS. I believe it was aired on CBS only once, was sponsored by Nextel and was originally narrated by Robert De Niro with no ads except for donation requests and introductions of other public servants (Police, Fire Fighters, military etc from around the U.S.). Language was not edited and the video was raw and horrifying. When I need a reminder of that day, I watch this and/or The Discovery Channel's "Inside the Twin Towers" which is a docudrama with real and acted footage. There are others, but these two are the most intense in my opinion....of course not forgetting the Pentagon and Flight 93 hijackings.
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Daryl M. from DENVER, PA Reviewed on 9/26/2009...
Very good. Reminds us of that Day in history...let us never forget how it started!
Perhaps the best documentary on 9/11
D. Movahedpour | CA United States | 02/03/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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."
Faithful and respectful record of that horrible day.
Patrick L. Randall | Silver Spring, MD | 08/19/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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 the South Tower fell and made everything black as night. The abject terror of that scene can scarcely be described. In the aftermath of both towers collapsing, the documentary focused primarily on the rescue efforts and concerns about the safety of fellow firefighters. Thanks to the Naudet brothers, we now have a very accurate and respectful documentary of 9/11's 'day of infamy'. Having a piece of history like this to view will allow people to never completely forget that day, while also allowing them to come to terms with it."
Oh I Just Don't Want To See That Anymore
Patrick L. Randall | 09/15/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Yeah yeah yeah - I've seen it all. I understood the horror. I'd seen it over and over as it happened and in the replay that day. I've cried my eyes dry. I watched the documentaries about the WTC being built, and how it collapsed. But you know what, I didn't know JACK until I watched this.
The confusion in the lobby caught me first...what WAS that noise...then they explain. I became sick. At every horrifying crash, the firefighters look up, gulp the fear back, literally, and go back to the business of trying to save people.
The video of Father Judge praying in the lobby before the collapse is priceless - the only two mental images I had of him were still pictures of the blessing for the victims of Flight 900 at the shore, and his body's removal from the tower. This video shows you he was about the business of praying for the folks there in earnest.
Finally, I sat down with my pc and froze the dvd whenever I could see a name on a helmet or an overcoat and went to read about that person's life. And death. And I cried again. And became angry all over again. I will never forget the images on this film.
The French people gave us the Statue of Liberty, and now they (in the form of these two wonderful French brothers) have given us one of the most important keys to understanding the attack - in all its horror and honesty, this is the one I'll show my grandchildren, God in heaven willing.
Jules and Gedeon, and Firefighter Hanlon, God Bless you each."
No sugar coating here
Barbara J. Webb | Fayetteville, Arkansas United States | 09/03/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I watched the TV broadcast of this film not knowing what to expect. What I got was an excellent documentary which started out mildly enough with two French film makers following the training of a probationary firefighter in New York City. Unfortunately for them, it looked as if they were going to make a rather run-of-the-mill, uneventful documentary. It apparently had been a slow summer for the FDNY. Then came the morning of September 11, 2001 and a routine call to check out a gas leak on a city street. What followed is the most important film of that day ever. There are no talking-head news reporters. There are no politicians making speeches. What we see are the firefighters in the lobby of the World Trade Center, having no idea what is really happening above them. From their position inside the building they couldn't see what we were seeing outside. They were kept guessing. But they could see enough to know that people were jumping out of the building. Although they had to wonder what could be so bad above that jumping from those upper stories was preferable to waiting for whatever happened, these firefighters also knew that it was their job to go up and meet headon with whatever those who jumped were fleeing. This documentary shows a side of September 11 that we were not allowed to see in the media. Everyone should see this at least once."
Michael T. Rognlien | Chicago, IL USA | 09/22/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've always been a visual person.. in school, at work, I always have to see things in order to make sense of them.9/11 was no different. I, like most people around the world, was glued to the TV for days after 9/11, watching stories of survivors and of those lost, piecing together what had happened in an attempt to fully understand what happened.Unlike most media coverage of 9/11, this DVD focuses on one of the many families in NYC - that of a firehouse 7 blocks from what was once the WTC. The brothers who made this had been invited in pre-9/11 to make a documentary of the 'coming-of-age' of a junior firefighter who joins the department as a "proby" .. but as with everything else in the world on 9/11, took a completely different form after the first plane hit Tower 1 of the WTC.It is heartbreaking, inspiring, horrifying and even uplifting all at the same time. The company documented was indeed rare - all of its fighters lived to tell their stories (often as voice-overs for amazing footage taken from inside Tower 1 as everything was going on) and through the sights and sounds captured, 9/11 makes a bit more sense.The word "hero" has been thrown around a lot in the last year, describing everyone from firefighters to postal workers and volunteers. But to see these guys go into the buildings and selflessy go about doing their work is the most inspiring thing I've seen since 9/11. While it's sometimes hard to watch, it puts the horrible events in NYC on that day into perspective, and makes you realize that if people who barely escaped with their lives - in spite of losing so many others - can go on, so can the rest of us."