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HTF REVIEW: We take a look at three major 9/11 documentaries on DVD from ARTISAN

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Aug 28, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein

    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.

    New York Firefighters
    The Brotherhood of 9/11

    Studio: Artisan/Discovery Channel
    Year: 2002
    Rated: NR
    Film Length: 50 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: Full Frame (1.33:1)

    This is perhaps the most personal story of them
    all, for its the story Bronx Rescue Squad #3, one
    of five rescue squads spread out over the boroughs
    of NYC. They are specialists whose trucks carry
    no ladders nor water. Their job is to be at every
    fire and assist in search and rescue.
    Rescue Squad #3 is a house forever changed, for
    it was the morning of 9/11 that 8 men left for
    Manhattan to take the call and never returned.
    A plexiglass tribute memorial stands on the
    inside wall of that firehouse.
    Narrated by Stockard Channing, This is a personal
    look at the men who remain at the Bronx firehouse,
    recounting stories of their brothers who fell that
    day. There are many powerful and emotional moments
    here including the group of firemen who 6 months
    after 9/11, finally sit around a television and
    watch home videos of that day. This is an
    emotional moment as we watch the horror in the
    faces of those that could not have been there
    that day, but yet suddenly see it all happening
    through these home movies. Later, as these men
    sit around a firehouse table, they recount some fond
    memories of each of their fallen brothers.
    Through this documentary you learn about how
    firemen become a family unit. These are men that
    eat and sleep together. The firehouse is their
    second home. Losing a member of that firehouse is
    as serious as losing a member of their own family.
    Intertwined with the stories of these firemen are
    interviews with those who were inside the towers
    shortly before their collapse, and have their own
    stories about the firemen who came to rescue them.
    One very emotional story comes from a survivor who
    on the way down his stairwell escape came upon
    a firefighter who was on his way up to rescue those
    still inside. This survivor recalls the exhaustion
    and sweat of the fireman's face. The fireman asked
    for help. This survivor gladly took part of his
    gear and helped this firefighter up to the 30th
    floor. It was there that he heard calls from the
    radio about two firefighters that had collapsed from
    massive chest pains. This survivor recalls his
    final moments before escaping the building, saying
    goodbye to the firefighters he would never see again.
    The documentary briefly turns to footage of the
    recovery effort as brother looked for his own
    brother amongst the smoldering twisted steel remains
    of the towers. We even see interviews of the
    men of ladder 6 -- the only firefighters to emerge
    from the rubble alive. These men recall those
    moments when they were trapped in the only stairwell
    remaining as huge chunks of concrete and steel fell
    around them.
    Perhaps the most emotional moments of this entire
    documentary come as the families of the fallen
    heroes of Rescue 3 come back to the firehouse to
    clean out the lockers of their husband/father/brother.
    If there are any happy moments here, perhaps it
    is those that come from the members of the community
    who reached out and came to the firehouse to provide
    its members with food and support. It was for that
    only brief moment I had a smile on my face.
    How is the transfer?
    While presented in a 1.33:1 version, my Panasonic
    DVD player somehow presented this DVD as a
    widescreen presentation with no unusual ratio
    deformities. Upon capturing screenshots with
    POWER DVD software, the images were presented in
    their full frame ratio. Very odd.
    In any event, this DVD is filled with raw video
    footage that is very clear. The digitally mastered
    transfer is excellent all around. The stereo
    presentation has that very crisp, high-end video
    sound to it. There is excellent stereo separation
    in the front channels and sound is so very detailed
    that you can hear individual gasps from the background
    crowd as these events unfolded.
    Let me also sternly warn that because this is
    an Artisan release, you can expect absolutely no
    subtitles here. Again, I get on my soapbox and
    berate the studio for ignoring the hearing impaired
    community with DVD releases such as this.
    Final Thoughts
    An extremely personal and highly emotional look at
    the bond between firefighters and the way a rescue
    company was forever changed by the events of 9/11.
    These are the brave individuals that continue to
    define what heroism and humanity is all about.
    Highly recommended!
    Release Date: Now

    World Trade Center
    Anatomy of the Collapse

    Studio: Artisan/TLC
    Year: 2002
    Rated: NR
    Film Length: 52 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: Full Frame (1.33:1)

    "Don't trust the truss"
    Opened in 1970, the World Trade Center was bigger
    than anything anyone had seen before it. Standing
    at 1719 feet high in the air, it was a piece of
    architecture that was built to withstand just
    about anything conceivable. So why then were so
    many people unable to escape the attack of 9/11
    and why was the collapse of the Twin Towers
    inevitable? This documentary takes a look at
    those questions and provides answers in the process.
    We are taken to a NJ scrap yard three miles away
    where within the heaps of twisted metal that are
    about to be broken down and recycled, clues can
    be found.
    We meet the men who conceived and built the Twin
    Towers. Meet Leslie E. Robertson whose ultimate
    responsibility was securing the strength and safety
    of the towers. As Leslie sits in his office and
    recalls the events of that fateful day, he is
    saddened that the circumstances of 9/11 were
    outside of what was considered in the building
    We learn about the reasons and struggles over
    the building of the World Trade Center. We are
    shown original photos of plans and models that
    depict a huge open plaza that would carry more
    office space than the city of Cincinnati. We
    also learn of the problems concerning the design
    of the elevator shafts and how that problem was
    eventually resolved. There were also concerns
    about wind and the problems concerning the
    dynamics of the motion of the building. The
    World Trade Center was built with a unique tube
    structure with meshed steel that surrounded its
    exterior. This caused the building to withstand
    the harshest wind gusts.
    There is some terrific video footage of the
    building being built as well as archived interviews
    and photos of the building's design.
    We then move on to the terrorist attacks on
    the building itself. Computer graphic footage
    takes us through the first terrorist attack in
    February 1993, where in a parking garage beneath
    the complex a bomb exploded. Six people were
    killed and 1,042 were injured in what was at that
    time the biggest terrorist attack on American soil.
    Now eight years later, there are some startling
    shots of the airplanes hitting the twin towers.
    These are shots I have never seen before. The
    157 foot wingspan of these 767 jets were enough
    to devastate the inner core of the building,
    blocking all elevator and stairwell passage on
    the floors above. We talk to an elevator operator
    who was on duty that day who tells a horrific
    story of how the elevator cables snapped and
    the cars came racing down with people inside.
    This documentary further explores through computer
    graphics how the steel framing was warped by the
    fire's intense heat, burning away the mineral fibers
    of fire proofing that surrounded each beam. We see
    how the strong, but light steel trusses were
    affected by the extreme, being the first part of the
    structure to collapse.
    How is the transfer?
    While presented in a 1.33:1 version, my Panasonic
    DVD player somehow presented this DVD as a
    widescreen presentation with no unusual ratio
    deformities. Upon capturing screenshots with
    POWER DVD software, the images were presented in
    their full frame ratio. Very odd.
    The overall video quality is excellent. Though
    most of the Trade Center attacks are blurred with
    added animation, we see some amazing pictures of
    the two planes flying into the structure. While
    the transfer is as good as expected, the raw video
    footage is only as good as the conditions it was
    filmed under.
    The stereo track is very clear, providing crisp
    and detailed audio.
    I again bring up the fact there are no subtitles
    available on this DVD, something which Artisan is
    greatly guilty of ignoring.
    Final Thoughts
    An excellent compliment to the many 9/11
    documentaries available as it concentrates less
    on the emotional impact and more on the structural
    impact of the two towers. There are certainly
    some definitive answers provided here as to why
    the towers quickly collapsed shortly after the
    Highly recommended!
    Release Date: Now

    Operation Enduring Freedom:
    America Fights Back

    Studio: Artisan
    Year: 2002
    Rated: NR
    Film Length: 65 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: Full Frame (1.33:1)

    On September 11, 2001, the United States declared
    war on terrorism and the search for Osam bin Laden

    Operation Enduring Freedom is a gung-ho
    look at the continuing war effort in Afghanistan.
    It's a look at the battles from Mazar-e Sharif to
    Kandahar to Tora Bora to Operation Anaconda.
    Beginning with a speech by Secretary Donald
    Rumsfeld, the video doesn't cease to remind us
    about the heroics of this war effort and how
    proud we are to be Americans. The documentary
    begins with a brief recap of the events of 9/11,
    and President George Bush's address to the nation.
    So why is America hated by these Islamic groups?
    That question is explored through footage of the
    Arab-Israeli conflict of the 60s, followed by the
    Afghan war in 1979 where the United States fell
    victim to the religious fanaticism these wars
    released. The 1990 Gulf War ended with anti-American
    sentiments from which came the al-Qaida's
    determination to strike back at America.
    The documentary explores the terrorist attacks
    against Americans including the 1983 attack on
    U.S. Marine barracks, followed by the 1988 bombing
    of Pan Am flight 103. Then there's the World Trade
    Center attack in 1993. All these attacks were aimed
    at the removal of the U.S. political and military
    presence in Saudi Arabia - Islam's holy land.
    Throughout all the terrorism, America failed to
    heed the warnings.
    And who are these architects of global war against
    America? They were none other than the al-Qaida,
    led by Osam Bin Laden, one of 25 sons of a Saudi
    billionaire. Osama was welcomed by the Taliban
    regime who imposed a brutal tyranny over Afghanistan.
    Bin Laden established al-Queda, an organization
    that recruited terrorists who were dispatched to
    other countries to unleash terrorism -- all with
    the promise that their death would bring them a
    greater after life.
    Through previously classified battle footage
    we watch for the first time as the United States
    launches air and ground attacks. We watch the
    surrender of the Taliban and the search for those
    that remain unaccounted for.
    Finally, this DVD looks at the war effort at home --
    including Homeland Security, the anthrax scares
    in the Postal Service, the shoe bombing incident
    and the realization of John Walker Lindh, a Taliban
    fighter from northern California.
    How is the transfer?
    This full-frame 1.33:1 transfer did not change
    its full-frame ratio, as did similar documentaries.
    While the transfer is as good as expected, the raw
    video footage is only as good as the conditions it
    was filmed under.
    The stereo sound is very clear across the front
    channels, providing distinct audio clarity to
    everything happening on screen.
    As a bonus, an interesting photo gallery is included.
    Artisan again has released a DVD with no subtitles.
    Final Thoughts
    Anyone interested in the history of our conflicts
    with terrorists and our present situation in
    Afghanistan should take great interest in this
    DVD. Though it plays a little too highly upon
    the American spirit rather than sticking to the
    facts, it is nice to see that the soldiers who
    have sacrificed their lives to fight terrorism
    have been honored through this documentary.
    Release Date: Now

    Coming Friday 8/30: The Grandaddy of all 9/11 documentaries... the CBS 9/11 Edition from
    Paramount. Look for that review elsewhere on this forum.
  2. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

    Jan 16, 1998
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    Thanks for the reviews. At this point I don't even know wquite what to say or think. bUt many of those same emosions came back.
  3. Christopher D

    Christopher D Second Unit

    Oct 16, 2000
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    Two other 9/11 titles are out now. CNN has a low-priced disc ($10) with it's "CNN Remembers" documentary, which is fairly disappointing because it is mostly CNN journalists talking about their experience from the day, interspersed with a few news clips. It came off to me as pretty self-serving, because as tough as it was for everybody that day, the journalists are not at the top of the list of those suffering.

    The other title is a DVD included with the CBS News book "What We Saw." Although the book also slants a bit toward journalists recollections, the DVD is very long (IIRC it's around or over two hours), and includes a lot of original broadcast clips from 9/11 as well as several of the "60 Minutes" pieces that ran on firefighters, families, etc. It's a very worthwhile archival disc. I would still like to see someone release a DVD of a major news network feed for the first 12 hours or so of the story, which is still absolutely riveting and would be a critical historical record.
  4. Wes C

    Wes C Supporting Actor

    Jan 7, 2002
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    Are th proceeds of the disc's going to charities?
  5. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

    Oct 31, 1997
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    I'll be picking these up so I'll never forget, but to be honest it may be a while before I actually give them a spin. Good to hear that they are done tastefully.
  6. Greg O' Connel

    Greg O' Connel Stunt Coordinator

    Apr 10, 2000
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    I just purchased the CNN Remembers 9/11 DVD today. Overall, it was pretty good as a chronicle of the events of September 11 and the aftermath. There were even a couple of shots of the attacks on the WTC that I don't remember seeing that brought back some of the horror of that day. It also includes President Bush's full State of the Union Speech from earlier this year.

    On a side note, does the Operation Enduring Freedom DVD mention the British involvement in the attacks? The CNN Remembers disc doesn't, although it covers much more than just the Afghanistan war.
  7. Jeff_HR

    Jeff_HR Producer

    Jun 15, 2001
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    I have three other DVDs on the WTC that are worth owning if a person is interested in the subject matter.
    • 1. Nova: Why The Towers Fell
      2. WTC The first 24 Hours
      3. World Trade Center: A Modern Marvel 1973-2001
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  8. Allan Mack

    Allan Mack Supporting Actor

    May 26, 2001
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    Are there two CNN discs? I've seen CNN's Tribute: America Remembers, but I don't recall a CNN Remembers...
  9. Christopher D

    Christopher D Second Unit

    Oct 16, 2000
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    Same disc --
  10. Paul D G

    Paul D G Screenwriter

    Dec 25, 2001
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    Thanks, Christopher D, for posting your comments on the CNN disc. I nearly bought this on Tuesday but wanted to find out more about it as I am planning to buy the CBS and HBO discs and didn't want to "overdo" it.

    I was hoping the disc would focus on news coverage of the attacks and agree that a disc documenting the first hour uncut would be something to have, then having it go on to recap the remainder of the day's events. As with other significant events in our history, I think an "as it happened" document it important for future generations.


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