Planning to see "Munich"? Watch "One Day In September" first! (A review)

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Ronald Epstein, Dec 25, 2005.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    [​IMG]

    One Day In September





    Studio: Sony Classics
    Year: 1999
    Rated: R
    Film Length: 97 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.85:1)
    Subtitles: English





    Place me amongst the individuals that don't enjoy
    the theatrical experience. One will rarely see me
    at the local cinemaplex, that is unless there's a
    new film by my favorite director, Steven Spielberg.

    Over the next few weeks I plan on seeing Spielberg's
    latest feature, Munich, a fictional movie
    about Israeli agents who hunted down the Palestinian
    terrorists responsible for the slaughter of Israeli
    athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

    I realized, however, that I knew very little about
    the historic incident the film is partly based upon.
    What I did know was that a documentary was made about
    the terrorist attack and a quick search of the Internet
    led me to One Day In September.

    This outstanding 1999 Academy Award-winning documentary
    gives a very chilling account of the event that
    shocked the world in the early morning of September
    5th 1972 as eight Arab terrorists climbed over the
    fence of the Olympic Village and took 11 Israelis
    hostage. The operation was carried out by the Palestine
    Liberation Organization (PLO) who called themselves
    Black September.

    The terrorists demanded the immediate release of
    234 Arab prisoners in Israeli jails and Germany before
    an initial noon deadline. If the demands were not
    to be met, the hostages would be shot.

    Narrated by Michael Douglas, One Day In September
    is just as chilling to watch today as it was 33 years
    ago. The seemingly endless amount of footage is
    presented in a relentless timeline, complete with a
    ticking clock that adds to the tense situation. The
    footage is intertwined with two primary interviews.
    The first is with the one surviving member of the
    Black September terrorist squad, Jamal Al Gashey. The
    other is with the wife of Andre Spitzer, the Israeli
    team fencing coach, who recounts the ordeal through
    her eyes.

    What makes watching One Day In September such a
    remarkable viewing experience is that the entire event
    unfolds before your very eyes. It's no wonder -- with
    television cameras so omnipresent, everything that went
    on during those 24 hours was captured for a world-wide
    audience. In fact, one would say that the overexposure
    caused a lot of embarrassment for the German government
    as viewers watched LIVE, police officers strolling
    into the Village disguised as athletes, readying a
    surprise assault on the terrorists. Little did the
    police know that the terrorists were also watching this
    action unfold on television. There are also other
    numerous bumbled attempts by the German police to
    resolve the situation.

    Overall presentation of this DVD is very good,
    mostly for the fact that the filmed footage is in
    excellent condition.

    Having bought this DVD blindly and knowing very
    little about what I was to watch, I found One Day
    In September
    to be a highly rewarding viewing
    experience. There is no mistake that this film won
    an Academy Award. The story is craftily told through
    its use of interviews, graphic footage and computer
    generated models highlighted by a '70s soundtrack
    that takes you back to the day.

    This is an absolute "must-see" documentary!
     
  2. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

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    Hi Ron

    Sold

    Merry Christmas
     
  3. Marko Berg

    Marko Berg Supporting Actor

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    I've seen this documentary on television and thought it was quite well done. Glad to see it's available on DVD.
     
  4. ErichH

    ErichH Screenwriter

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    Thanks for the review Ron.
    Sounds like a perfect primer for Munich.

    E
     
  5. Ravi K

    Ravi K Supporting Actor

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    Thanks for the review. I saw Munich yesterday and will rent this one soon.
     
  6. Orlando

    Orlando Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks Ron,

    I just put it on the top of my Netflix list to get me ready for the new one.

    Have a Great Holiday and a Happy and Health New Year.

    Orlando
     
  7. Ray H

    Ray H Producer

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    Nice to see someone else doing the same! I borrowed One Day in September from my local library just last week.
     
  8. Steve Tannehill

    Steve Tannehill Ambassador

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    Looks like they have a new cover design on the DVD. Did they reissue this in time for Munich to hit theaters?

    I agree 100 percent about this documentary. It is actually pretty disturbing to see how inept the security forces were. I was almost 8 when I watched this unfold on TV. I remember Jim McKay telling us "They're all gone" but I had little understanding of the issues surrounding the events.

    My theatrical movie list is growing longer, but this week I hope to see at least King Kong and Munich.

    - Steve
     
  9. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Steve,

    I ordered my copy through LasersEdge and there
    were indeed two different versions available.

    The new cover version (sans the yellow Academy
    Award Winner banner across the top) was released
    just last week. This is the cover depicted in my
    review.

    No mention anywhere of "Munich" on the packaging.
     
  10. Ray H

    Ray H Producer

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    If it matters, this new cover looks better than the other one IMHO. [​IMG]
     
  11. Paul.S

    Paul.S Producer

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    Thanks Ron et al. Saw Munich Friday night and I've lobbed this into the top 20 of my Queue.

    -p
     
  12. Mike Heenan

    Mike Heenan Second Unit

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    Not ALL of the Israeli athletes were killed in the Munich Olympics... a few escaped, and several weren't even found (they were in adjacent rooms). That was thanks to the wrestling coach I believe. This is a great documentary, but aftermath is even more fascinating (if you're into spy stuff like I am). I wish they would make a documentary on that, maybe for the Munich DVD they will include some of that.
     
  13. Paul.S

    Paul.S Producer

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    Spun it last night--an excellent docu. Some terrif montages to give a feel for the period with a nice use of music (including Elliot Goldenthal/the Kronos Quartet's "Heat" from the pic of the same name).

    There was so much German governmental/police ineptitude surrounding these events that Steven does not get into in Munich (i.e., the contemplated police raid on the building, preparations for which were being watched on live TV by the terrorists; the failed plan to bring the terrorists so much food that more than just Issa had to emerge from the building to retrieve it; the disaster of no communication with the snipers at Furstenfeldbruck airport; the police taking a vote to abandon their positions in the airplane; and perhaps most significantly the possibility of German governmental complicity in the plane hijacking that lead to the German government's release of the three Palestinians who participated in Munich without even consulting the Israeli government)
    , now I understand why some are criticizing Munich as anti-Israeli.

    Would really love to hear an Arthur Cohn commentary on this one. For instance, how the hell did he find Jamal Al Gashey?

    -p
     
  14. Tim-H.

    Tim-H. Second Unit

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    Bought this Tuesday and found it compelling, esp after seeing MUNICH. I'm a few years too young to remember the actual event (I remember Watergate vaguely) but the images are still strong enough to induce nightmares.
    Quick question: Anyone have trouble with the subtitles? As they came on for other languages they stayed on, even when I tried turning them off. Player is JVC RX-DV31SL, maybe I'll try my all-region Malata.
    I also popped it into my Mac and found the subs turned on/off as needed, but were cut off on the right side....very odd.
     
  15. Haggai

    Haggai Producer

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    Paul.S, I don't think it would have made much sense for Spielberg to cover the attack in as much detail as you mention. The W. Germans' ineptitude didn't have much direct impact on the story that he was interesting in exploring, about the hit squads who went after the terrorists. The subsequent plane hijacking you mentioned was indeed in the movie, although without much in the way of discussion about the W. Germans' possible complicity. But I think this was also a reasonable choice for Speilberg, given that the characters he was focusing on were not involved with any of those political aspects of what was going on.
     
  16. Paul.S

    Paul.S Producer

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    Haggai:

    I'm not making an argument for a level of specific inclusion of what Steven chose to exclude. Indeed, I understand that he apparently made a narrative choice to focus his eye elsewhere, specifically on a more personal, anti-"eye-for-an-eye" message. I'm saying that it's a problematic choice (and not the first time I've had issues with whose narrative voice Steven chooses to privilege in his dramas; Schindler's is the best example). In my opinion, that choice opens the door to how one might take issue with the pic's politics. Before seeing September, I didn't understand the criticisms of Munich voiced by some in the Jewish community.

    -p
     
  17. PaulEB

    PaulEB Stunt Coordinator

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    I was only 9 when this happened, but I can still remember the images on TV. Just reserved this at the library. Thanks for the tip Ron.
     
  18. Haggai

    Haggai Producer

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    Paul.S, I guess I see what you're getting at. Although, on the level of what actually happened at the Munich Olympics, two of the people in a best position to know have said that they're ok with how Spielberg's movie treated the events. There was a screening for two of the slain Olympians' widows, Ilana Romano and Ankie Spitzer (the latter of whom is a major figure in One Day in September), and they both said they didn't have any major complaints.
     
  19. PaulEB

    PaulEB Stunt Coordinator

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    Always have to keep in mind that these are movies, not history books or documentaries. Some fact, some fiction.
     
  20. Paul.S

    Paul.S Producer

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    Haggai: Of course I mean no disrespect to Mrs. Romano and Mrs. Spitzer, but--especially given some of the latter's comments in the September supps--I'd think it's safe to say that their primary concern was/is that the memory of their husbands was honored. I think some of the Munich criticisms have a broader focus in mind.

    PaulEB: It's a complicated, perennial issue but I'd argue that films based upon such seminal historical events often have obligations which other kinds of work not based upon history perhaps don't share.

    -p
     

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