One Day in September

Reviewed By Chris Parry
Posted 10/19/00 00:23:00

"Intriguing subject matter. Boring as batshit production."
4 stars (Worth A Look)

That's the problem with doco's, dammit. People see something interesting and applaud like crazy at the filmmaker without actually considering if the filmmaker did a great job or just plugged interesting footage together and rode in on the topic's back. In this case, the research is incredible, the facts astounding, the footage amazing. But the film...

At the 2000 Sydney Film Festival I saw some fantastic docos. The Other Hollywood was a searing doco about the west coast pron industry and how the participants get used up and spat out. It was more than alarming, it was terrifying. An amazing work. Also incredible was The Filth And The Fury, a documentary telling the 'other side' of the Sex Pistols story. Julien Temple's incredible work got so far under the skin of the Pistols, that by the end we're treated not only to lost footage of Sid Vicious being interviewed shortly before his death, but footage of Johnny Rotten breaking up in tears on the topic.

Yet strangely, much more attention was paid to two documentaries that just plain stank. One, Mr Death, certainly benefitted from the adulation roundly delivered to it's veteran filmmaker Errol Morris, despite the splotchy nature of the film's construction and the laughable nature of it's conclusions. The second, The Diplomat, was as bad a documentary as I've seen, but again got a standing ovation, if only because the film's topic, East Timorese freedom fighter Jose Ramos Horta, was present for a post film Q&A. Certainly Horta deserves a standing O for his brave and relentless fight, but the filmmaker himself deserves nothing more than a gift certificate for NYU Film School.

Which brings us to One Day In September. I'll admit I was a little weak on the events of the Munich Olympics terrorist incident. I knew people had been taken hostage, I knew Israeli's had died. I did not know the rest, and the rest is so incredible, so unbelievable, that this is, despite it's failings, a must see film.

The facts that will leave your jaw dropping are best uncovered in the film itself, so stuff you all, I'm not telling. Just trust me, the film stinks, the facts more than make up for this and you will, I guarantee, leave the cinema in sheer amazement at how terribly a Government can botch a bad situation on live TV.

What? That's all? Yeah, that's all. Go see it. Go by yourself. Make a note of it. Learn about what happened in Munich. Shake your head like I did as the comedy of errors that took so many lives unfolds. Be amazed at the incompetence, the arrogance, the apathy and the futility. Watch the events, just forgive the director his failings.

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