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HTF REVIEW: "9/11 The Filmmakers' Commemorative DVD Edition" (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Aug 29, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    [​IMG]

    9/11




    Studio: Paramount
    Year: 2002
    Rated: NR
    Film Length: 129 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: Widescreen (1.78:1)



    It's a very difficult decision to devote an entire
    day to reviewing these new DVD titles that reflect
    upon the events of September 11, 2001. I consider
    this a prelude to the many images that Americans
    will be revisiting as we approach the one year
    anniversary of the attacks.
    Some of you may not be interested in revisiting
    the perpetual images that these DVDs provide.
    For those of you that feel this way, I urge you
    not to read any more of this review as the images
    and stories are all here.
    For others, these DVDs are very well done, presenting
    an enormous amount of educational value to those
    who are interested in watching them.
    Nothing has ever been this real.
    This year's most amazing documentary makes
    it way to DVD courtesy of Paramount Home Video.
    This is the story of the very first firefighters
    who arrived in World Trace Center Tower #1 just
    after the plane hit.
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    On September 11, 2001, french filmmakers (and
    brothers) Jules and Gedeon Naudet had been filming
    a documentary about a rookie firefighter (also
    known as a "probie"), when events turned for
    the worse. Though the brothers had never planned
    for this to be a documentary about the events of
    that tragic day, this recording is the definitive
    record of what happened on 9/11, bringing all of
    us as close to the reality as anyone could get.
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    As the documentary opens we see the footage that
    Jules and Gedeon had been shooting for the past
    few weeks leading up to 9/11. Their story was
    about a fireman named Tony and his first few weeks
    on the job as a probie -- cleaning dishes, mopping
    the floor and scrubbing the fire truck back to its
    bright red splendor. Tony longs for action, but
    unfortunately has become a white cloud that brings
    no fires. As we watch Tony train, we can see the
    desire in him to become a real firefighter. We
    even watch Tony open up his first meager check as
    he exclaims, "If I wanted to be rich, I could have
    become a lawyer but I wanted something to live with
    for the rest of my life". Well said words, indeed!
    Jules and Gedeon were getting just as disappointed
    as Tony was. By the end of August they had no
    exciting footage of fire fighting. Most of it was
    of the firemen cooking meals every night. The
    firemen warned them to be careful what you wish
    for. They could never have been more accurate with
    their words....
    9/11
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    The morning started as routinely as ever. At
    8:30am the company responded to a gas leak with
    Jules and his camcorder in tow. As the group of
    firemen stand over a street grid you can see the
    two towers behind them. Suddenly there's the sound
    of a loud roar above them as an airplane swoops
    over their heads and into the Trade Center tower.
    Right there and then they knew this would be the
    worst day of their lives as a firefighter. As
    everyone looked up, the world just stopped.
    [​IMG]
    As they race towards 1 World Trade Center, Jules
    is there with his camcorder taking footage as
    the firemen enter the lobby. Their mission: get
    up 80 stories to rescue people. To the firefighters,
    this was only a routine fire that they would have
    to put out. It would be a tough job, but they
    would put it out! They knew nothing of
    the events that were about to unfold.
    The documentary dramatically tells the story of
    events through the eyes of the men that were there.
    The camcorder that Jules holds becomes the only
    true eyewitness record of the events inside the
    Tower 1 lobby all the way through the collapse of
    the two towers.
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    Gedeon, meanwhile, remains at the firehouse with
    Tony, who was off-duty when the alarm came in.
    Gedeon decides to go after his brother. As he
    takes his video camera in hand, we see the
    remarkable chain of events that happen on the
    streets of lower New York. There is complete
    fear and panic on the streets covered with layers
    of dust, almost looking as if a snowstorm had
    blown threw.
    9/11 is released as a commemorative
    DVD Edition that contains 20 minutes of added
    material in its documentary, and an additional
    50 minutes of interviews with firefighters in
    its supplements.
    The one major gripe I have with this DVD is that
    all the footage of Robert DeNiro is gone. Why
    on earth was his participation in this presentation
    removed?
    As far as added material, I can only tell you
    the things I noticed added (it has been nearly
    7 months since the TV airing). There is a rather
    graphic orientation slideshow for the new recruits
    showing burn victims. These are rather disturbing
    photos and I can understand why a network would
    want them removed. Most of the additional material
    involves the firemen who were separated from each
    other during the attack.
    How is the transfer?
    The video footage is raw and often as good
    as the conditions it was filmed under. Despite
    that, most of the documentary comes across quite
    vividly, but often slightly unfocused. Facial
    tones tend to be more red -- but hey, this isn't
    a theatrical presentation -- this is a videotaped
    documentary.
    [​IMG]
    The only problem with the transfer is Paramount's
    choice to present this DVD in a Widescreen
    (1.78:1) transfer. Not that I am complaining,
    but this causes a bit of a problem with some of
    the video shots giving a stretched ratio. Faces
    in some of the crowd shots look wider than they
    should be, and in one shot, the Empire State
    Building looks like it gained some weight.
    This ratio also cuts off a tiny bit of picture
    information on the top and bottom resulting in
    the bottom of added text being cut off.
    The screenshots are the most accurate representation
    I could give without distortion. The image actually
    filled my anamorphic television as a 1.85:1 transfer
    would.
    The audio of the disc sounds very clean, crisp
    and detailed. What I like about this unprocessed
    sound is that when the streets of New York become
    buried in soot and dust, the sound suddenly takes
    on a very realistic numbing effect -- the same
    kind of silence you would hear if you walked outside
    your house after a snowfall.
    Though this DVD does indicate closed captioning,
    there are no subtitles available from the remote
    menu.
    Final Thoughts
    This is as real and intense as life gets --
    without the support of actors or staged events
    to shock us, to make us cry, to make us angry.
    This powerful visual document is a tribute to
    the real-life heroes who showed courage, strength
    and compassion during the city's darkest hours.
    [​IMG]
    Purchasing this DVD is the best thing you can
    do for yourself and the firefighters, as proceeds
    from the sale of this DVD go to a scholarship
    fund for firefighters.
    Release Date: September 12, 2002
     
  2. Tino

    Tino Premium
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    I will be picking up this excellent documentary along with the equally powerful HBO documentary 9/11: In Memoriam.
    I work in Manhattan regularly and still to this day get choked up every time I look at that "Empty Sky".[​IMG]
     
  3. Adam_WM

    Adam_WM Well-Known Member

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    I can't wait for this to come out. I don't know that I will watch it over and over, but it is something that I will want to hang onto for history's sake. Thanks for the great review.
    As for Deniro, Ron, I have to respectfully disagree. I thought Deniro looked like he was struggling through reading the cuecards. "I'm Robert... Deniro...I'm here...at Ground...Zero...where last... week...", etc. It was almost as if he was trying to do his best Christopher Walken impression. Like the Anna Nicole Show, his delivery was funny, even though it wasn't supposed to be. [​IMG] If I remember correctly, many critics loved the documentary and found DeNiro's non-prepared style to be disrespectful.
    Also, question, was the changing of the aspect ratio a stretch job or just a cropping? Do you think they did it in order to appease the widescreen market? I thought the Full Frame version was fine on network television. ANy ideas?
     
  4. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Well-Known Member

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    Okay, Ron, I'm confused. You state that the DVD's 16X9 enhanced, but my copy sure isn't. I even contacted Paramount to ask why not, and I was told it was the filmmakers' decision.

    Stunning documentary in any case. I didn't see it on TV, so I can't compare the De Niro stuff to the version without him. Either way, it's more dramatic and engrossing than I imagined...
     
  5. MikeEckman

    MikeEckman Well-Known Member

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  6. cafink

    cafink Well-Known Member

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    I think Ron just made a typo (perhaps he was working from a template and forgot to change that field?) because the screenshots he posted are clearly not 16:9 enhanced.
     
  7. Allan Mack

    Allan Mack Well-Known Member

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    Hmmm... The Big Picture also says this disc is letterboxed and not enhanced. I guess I'll just have to wait until I receive my copy...
     
  8. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    The box indicates Widescreen Version.
    I have made the proper corrections -- my apologies.
     
  9. Scott D S

    Scott D S Well-Known Member

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    The back cover is up at davisdvd.com. It isn't anamorphic. (I wonder why?)
     
  10. MikeEckman

    MikeEckman Well-Known Member

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    Should we start a 'No OAR = No Sale' Petition for Paramount on this title?! [​IMG]
     
  11. Jeremy Conrad

    Jeremy Conrad Well-Known Member

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  12. Adam_WM

    Adam_WM Well-Known Member

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    The doc was broadcast full-frame. Whether or not something was P&S off of it, I don't know.
     
  13. Tino

    Tino Premium
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    The CBS 9/11 documentary was NOT broadcast full frame. It was shown widescreen at about 1.78:1 I would guess.
     
  14. Matt Wallace

    Matt Wallace Well-Known Member

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    "Should we start a 'No OAR = No Sale' Petition for Paramount on this title?! "
    That's a pretty damn tacky post, considering the subject matter. Feel proud? I'M impressed. [​IMG]
    Matt
     
  15. Adam_WM

    Adam_WM Well-Known Member

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  16. David Von Pein

    David Von Pein Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]
     
  17. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Well-Known Member

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  18. YANG

    YANG Well-Known Member

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    Come on guys...
    This is a documentary,not a movie!
    Anamorphic or not,it is not a major concern!
    The most important part,is the filming of the actual tragic event,capturing of the actual conversations of every single person in that event relates to the incident.
    What i did not see,is the subtitles...
     
  19. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Well-Known Member

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  20. Allan Mack

    Allan Mack Well-Known Member

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    Okay, I just rewatched the original broadcast of the 2 hour 9/11 documentary on CBS that I taped back in March. Here are some of my observations:
    • There is definitely some stretching (ie., distortion) of the image in certain portions of the original broadcast. In particular, the stretching occurs in the scenes of the people running/walking away after the collapse of the South Tower (the second to be hit, and the first to fall). The image seems stretched horizontally, making people look slightly fatter than normal.
    • The same type of horizontal stretching shows up in other scenes, particularly scenes which show large groups of people congregating or walking.
    • I only mention this to let people know that the "stretched ratio" that Ron mentions in his DVD review is also in the original broadcast. Therefore, it appears that the DVD is at least faithful in this regard.
    • For the majority of the original broadcast, however, there is no stretching or distorting of the image. Only in certain portions does it occur. Once I get the DVD, I will do a more thorough side-by-side comparison.
    • I did not notice any textual information being cut off in the original broadcast.
    • The original broadcast is definitely letterbox widescreen for the most part (looks like 1:78:1). However, when the pictures of the firemen who died are shown at the very end, it is in 4:3 ratio.
    One thing I'm curious to know is this: If the DVD is letterboxed, how did it completely fill Ron's TV, which is a 16:9 TV?
     

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