Wednesday, June 8, 2016

9/11 The Falling Man (2006) NR 4 Stars

Very good documentary, tastefully done, about the worst day in modern U.S. history and in particular, one of it's most controversial photos published after the attacks on 9/11/2001.

The media quickly filled the newsstands with images of devastation and destruction of the terror attacks. It also filmed and published controversy images of people seemingly jumping to their deaths. One photo in a series taken by photographer Richard Drew, who just happened to be there, was labeled "The Falling Man." With it's powerful imagery, Drew captured the quiet and calmness of one man alone who felt there was no other choice. Many images were taken that day of people jumping/falling to their deaths but this one stood out symbolically. But after it's appearance in the next mornings news, it was "quickly airbrushed it out of history" due to it's gut wrench emotion no one wanted to continue to feel. The photograph was stifled and never seen again about being published on 9/12.

I remember viewing that photo and it was very hard to look at yet I couldn't look away. The images were quickly replaced with images of the heroic side of America coming together in the face of disaster. To prove you couldn't keep America down. But it's hard to imagine looking out of a window so high in the sky and thinking, yep I'm jumping. One can only imagine those horrific last moments of these victims lives.

The documentary follows one journalist who is committed to finding out the identity of this one brave man who seems so calm looking falling to his death. Like many others that day, who felt the better choice was to jump rather than burn, one can only imagine being faced with their options. But while trying to identify the man, one family's religious beliefs are shattered when the journalist tells them he believes it's their beloved father, brother and husband. They are unable to rest knowing his soul would go to hell by taking his own life. When it is finally revealed it is not their beloved, they can finally accept his death in peace. Even though the film finds a pretty good idea of who this man is, the film establishes the strength of the photo speaks for itself of the terror of that horrific day.

Like the tomb of the unknown soldier in, the picture represents everyone who lost their lives that day especially those who had felt they had no other option but to jump.

2007 New York Festival - Best Documentary - Henry Singer

Darlow Smithson Productions
Director: Harry Singer
Writers: Tom Junod
Producers: Harry Singer, Sue Bourne, John Smithson
I viewed 5/16

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