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5 reviews, 7 user ratings

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One Day in September
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by Dust For Eyes

"Two movies in a row that feature Michael Douglas that are worth watching? I"
5 stars

One Day In September is an illuminating film detailing the killings of Israeli athletes and officials at the Munich Olympic Games in 1972. Despite the best efforts of the film, the groups that are shown in the worst light are the IOC and the German officials and their handling of the crisis.

Now youíll never get me condoning terrorism - I donít like it. Itís the targeting of innocents and that can never be pardoned. I condemn the actions, but the cause is another matter.

The cause may well be justified. The terrorist organisations can be driven to these unacceptable acts for understandable reasons. A cause may be self-determination or to have a homeland. They are completely reasonable requests. So I might condemn the actions of a terrorist group, but I can find understanding and acceptability of the cause that the groups believe in. The ANC were dismissed as terrorist by some, that doesn't mean I was going to oppose their cause of the abolishment of apartheid.

Despite the Olympic ideal, the Olympic Games has often been a platform for anything but peace and harmony. The 1936 Berlin Games was a Nazi propaganda event and the intended 1940 Tokyo games didn't happen at all because of WWII (although it is still officially regarded as the 12th Olympiad). The Mexico games were marred by the killings of a couple of dozen anti-Gustavo protesters, and there was the tit for tat boycotts of the 1980 and 1984 Olympics.

The Munich Games should have been remembered for the incredible efforts of Mark Spitz winning seven gold medals. There was also the loss by the USA basketball team for the first time ever in the most extraordinary of circumstances (The US had thought they had won by one point , but then 3 seconds was Ďgiven backí to allow the Soviet Union to win). Yet the 1972 games were going to be remembered for a far more sobering event.

These Olympics were a nervous time for Germany. They wanted to make up for the propaganda of the 1936 Berlin games and 1968 student killings at the Mexico Games. For Israel it was especially significant - some of the Israeli officialdom were people who had fled the Nazis before WWII. It was hoped to be a peaceful, friendly and relaxed games in line with the Olympic ideal. Because of the events in 1936 and 1968, the security was not only low key, but also plainly inadequate.

Narrated by Michael Douglas, the film mixes footage and television coverage from the time and contemporary interviews with people connected to the events - including the only Black September terrorist group member who still survives today. Director, Kevin MacDonald gives us compelling film making, with the tension building up just as effectively as any conventional drama.

The insights and revelations into the event are extraordinary, if not infuriating.

Although time is rightly spent on getting to know the Israeli victims and their families, the Black September organisation and the Palestinians are given little time in the film on their dreadful plight in Israel and for the terroristsí motivations. There is no mention of the conditions the Palestinians were living in at the camps that were run by the Israelis, how the Black September group formed after the Six Day War, and the role of Jordan. No attempt is made to justify or explain their cause. If the film is to be believed they did it just to advertise themselves. Man, if you just want publicity get Richard Branson.

If you are prepared not to simply dismiss the Black September Groupís motivation, and are still looking for a bad guy then the film gives you one with the IOC and the German officialdom with their handling of the crisis. The lack of empathy and respect by the IOC - totally out of touch with the concerns of the rest of the world - is bewildering. The IOC only halted Olympic events with great reluctance while the terrorist were still in the atheletes' village. There are things more important than the games and winning - like people being killed by terrorists - thatís more important than winning.

The lack of co-ordination and planning by the German organisers to deal with the (surely not unexpected given recent history) situation was truly frightening. If it werenít so tragic it would be comical. The fate of the three captured Black September terrorists is also shocking.

Displays of recent security muscle reassures us that security is much improved nowadays, although I donít hold much hope for the IOC being in touch with the rest of the world given the recent Gosper debacle with the torch relay beginning.

One Day In September is an enthralling story. It is an excellent precursor to the games as we await excitedly for them. The Olympics is a great event, but this film puts into perspective what we are getting all excited about. A must for sport fans.

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originally posted: 08/28/00 12:39:26
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User Comments

10/23/09 nicole good 4 stars
12/23/05 Bruce Alan Niles Outstanding documentary 5 stars
12/16/00 shinola good explanation of events - a little propgandistic... 4 stars
11/24/00 Phil excellent 5 stars
10/11/00 Klute The history was intriguing, but the film itself could have used a better director. 3 stars
9/11/00 neil bartlett totally mindblowing piece of recent history 5 stars
9/07/00 matthew smith Outstanding 5 stars
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  17-Nov-2000 (R)
  DVD: 20-Dec-2005


  24-Aug-2000 (M)

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