"Making old news seem as alive; brilliant documentary filmmaking."
The 1972 Munich Olympics will always be remembered for the hostage crisis that resulted in 11 slain Israeli athletes at the hands of Palestinian terrorists. Until now, though, the whole story of exactly what happened has been unclear.What makes ONE DAY IN SEPTEMBER so great is that it takes an event we all think we know pretty well and gives it new evidence that makes us view the incident in a whole new light. If you donít know anything about what happened then all the better because the suspense that the documentary generates is tremendous.
To achieve the suspense documentarian Kevin MacDonald compiled and pieced together interviews and an abundance of archival footage of ABCís Olympic coverage to recreate the events. One of the reasons it works so well is that MacDonald letís the story unfold in front of our eyes as if it is live. He achieves this by showing us exactly what American viewers saw as ABC commentator Jim McKay updated the breaking story by the minute.
In the process MacDonald finds revelatory new information including numerous botched rescue plans by the Germans who were notable for their efficiency. One in particular being that when the police decided to strategically invade the apartments, where the Israelis were being held, they told ABC their plan. ABC then Ė not realizing (duh!) that the terrorists had TV sets Ė had their TV cameras following the covert rescue operation.
Needless to say the first rescue plan was a failure. The one astonishing thing that director Kevin MacDonald did was get an interview with Jamal Al-Gashey one of the Black September Palestinian terrorists who has been living in hiding for 28 years. Itís a remarkable feat when you consider that the Israeli secret police have been trying to hunt this guy down over that same period. The only criticism of ONE DAY IN SEPTEMBER is that MacDonald doesnít really go in depth on the facts. He chooses to recreate the events and give new evidence to the existing facts thus creating a good piece of grisly journalism.ONE DAY IN SEPTEMBER won the Academy Award for best documentary earlier this year and itís easy to see why. Itís riveting and, best of all perhaps, its subject matter has been causing a lot of controversy outside of the U.S. from Germans, Palestinians and Israelis. This is just one reason to recommend it.-- Matt Langdon