One Day in September (1999)
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In 1972, athletes from around the globe gathered in Munich, Germany for the Olympic Games. However, the Olympic spirit of brotherhood and peaceful competition was shattered when eight Palestinian terrorists invaded the athletes' quarters to take the Israeli team hostage, resulting in the violent deaths of eleven athletes. In One Day in September, director Kevin Macdonald mixes newsreel coverage of the tragedy with interviews of witnesses and participants (including Jamil Al Gashey, the only surviving member of the terrorist cadre Black September who were responsible for the killings), as they discuss what happened, and how a dangerous situation turned tragic and deadly . Produced by two-time Oscar winner Arthur Cohn,One Day in September earned Cohn another trophy when it received an Academy Award as Best Documentary Feature. … More
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Critic Reviews for One Day in September
Macdonald seems to continue the pattern of hiding the soil and fertilizing process of political crime beneath the more obvious sights and symptoms of that crime's most putrid expressions.
Has such a powerful subject...that it can hardly fail to make an emotional impact.
Macdonald lets the facts speak for themselves, and what a powerful and unforgettable statement they indeed make.
The only documentary of late not to resort to righteous emotional pandering or talking head syndrome.
For a documentary about an incident that occurred nearly 30 years ago, "One Day in September" feels remarkably tense and urgent.
Audience Reviews for One Day in September
"When I was a kid my father used to say our greatest hopes and our worst fears are seldom realized. Our worst fears have been realized tonight."
The Palestinian terrorist group Black September holds Israeli athletes hostage at the 1972 Summer Olympic Games in Munich.
This documentary uses real footage throughout, with archived news reels, pictures, photos (of the dead, shot, burnt, otherwise), and interviews with family members. But their real coup would be to have interviewed the one and only surviving terrorist who partook in the horror against the spirit of the Olympics. It also provides those born after 1972, or too young to remember, a look at the events surrounding that day - from the Olympic organizers who are too arrogant to suspend the games, the indifference of the athletes in the Olympic Village, the lack of adequate security (as compared to today), to the politics behind the entire affairs.
Perhaps what will rile you are the West German's botched attempt to rescue the hostages. They were surprisingly ill-prepared, deploying untrained teams, lack of proper equipment, and had to recall countless of attempts, before the final embarrassment at the airport, which exposed their severe weakness at handling terrorist incidents. All the hostages were killed in the confrontation, when the terrorists threw hand grenades and emptied bullets into the helicopters they were in. It's only after this that the Germans formed their anti-terror squad, the GSG9. To make matters worse, there was a cover up and collusion between the Germans and the terrorists when the latter apparently hijacked a Lufthansa flight (with only 12 passengers on board, and no women and children), and the former handed over the 3 surviving terrorists of the Munich incident in exchange for safe passage of the flight. Perhaps the worst thing about viewing "One Day in September" is that it represents a warning in these terrorist-driven times that such events could always happen again. This film should not just be about what happened then, but about what could happen now and in the future.
"We are sorry for you. You made good Olympic Games. But you offered us a showcase and we have to use this showcase in order to show our possibility to so many millions... or even billions of people in the world who are watching your Olympic Games."
This was one hell of an act of terrorism being broadcast live worldwide. The events leading to the massacre were outrageous, and the steps taken by the Germans to fight the terrorists were incredibly gullible. The ease with which they've got over it is laudable. The rescue operation designed worked so well that it led to the death of one and all of the hostages. Of course, they succeeded in shooting dead five terrorists and capturing the rest of the lot. And as if the negligent rescue operation wasn't enough, when the hijackers of a jet plane demanded release of the terrorists under trial, they readily handed them away. What surprises me the most is that the surviving terrorists received a grand welcome and those shot dead received the funeral for the martyrs in Libya. I mean, they didn't even try to hide any of this. Ain't it ridiculous? Had no idea whatsoever of this "One Day In September" till now. Maybe I'm far more ignorant than I'd assumed.
One day in September is gripping, intense and astonishing. I thought I knew all there was to know about the '72 Munich Olympics disaster but I hadn't realised just how chaotic and dumbfounding it really was. This documentary tells you everything you need to know, with a thorough collection of TV clips, photos and interviews with people who were there, including an exclusive with the last surviving terrorist. See this if you enjoyed Bus 174, it works as a great companion piece to the also very excellent Munich. Documentaries don't get much better.More
Hmmm....where to begin? There's the German government who was eager to erase the horrible legacy of the 1936 Berlin Olympics, which Hitler used primarily as a tool for propaganda, and decided to provide relaxed security in the form of weaponless guards sporting gaudy baby blue blazers. Then there's the International Olympic Committee, who allowed the Games to go on while the athletes were held hostage in their room at Olympic Village. One shouldn't forget the drunken American athletes (Go U.S.A.!) who let the terrorists into the compound while sneaking home after curfew. And that's only the beginning.
The movie contains some revelations about the German government and its actions. The movie, however, has one very weak point against it for criticizing the media for making the crisis a news event and spectacle, while simultaneously using same footage of the event for a sensational documentary. The ticking clock is a bit melodramatic, but I wouldn't hold that against it.
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