Help me briefly re-live 9/11 as it happened
September 8, 2011 11:41 AM   Subscribe

Are there a few minutes of video that sums up 9/11 as it happened that day? I feel like I need to re-live those moments but don't want it cluttered up by junk.

I vividly remember hearing, while still in bed on the west coast, that a second plane had hit the World Trade Center, and knowing in an instant that it was terrorism of a whole new order. The rest of the day I couldn't tear myself away from CNN and its images of confusion, horror, and disbelief.

Nearly immediately, the shameless (and shameful) exploitation of those images began. "Here, look at this Powerpoint with a picture of a jumper!" For my own sanity I had to avoid them.

Ten years later, I need to see those scenes to preserve them in my memory. What I'm looking for is a short segment consisting of broadcasts and recollections from that day. Almost certainly less than half an hour, hopefully more like ten minutes.

What I emphatically do not want is a breathless voice-over and overwrought graphics attempting to dramatize and/or provide context. A few carefully placed subtitles listing time and location would be ideal. I have read the 9/11 Commission Report several times, so it's not a question of knowing what happened, but rather seeing it happen.

It's OK if this segment is part of a larger, longer piece, and I expect to pay (I already bought the "Rebirth" documentary, but have not watched it.) It would not have to be suitable for children, or polished, or in HD, though clear standard definition would be appreciated. The requirement for short duration is because I don't think I can emotionally handle anything extended, not for reasons of attention span. Does what I'm looking for exist? Thank you.
posted by wnissen to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
This FPP may be a place to start looking. It may seem like way too much information on first blush -- but it will also let you confine your searching to a very specific and early time window, and that may yield what you seek.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:44 AM on September 8, 2011

I always thought this was a good, non sensational documentary about what happened that day. They used to show it every year on the anniversary but a few years back I got rid of my tv so I'm not sure if it's shown anymore. Well worth watching, I think.
posted by dave78981 at 11:56 AM on September 8, 2011

There is a lot of amazing restraint and overwhelming emotion in the several minutes of personal footage, both audio and video, used by Michael Moore in his film Farenheit 9/11 -- which incidentally does not show the actual towers being struck.
posted by hermitosis at 11:56 AM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

I was going to suggest the same footage as hermitosis, as it is what always springs to mind; if you fastforward around the rest of the documentary to avoid the political stuff, the actual 9/11 footage is just as it is, no voice-overs or text clogging the screen. The part I remember is people fleeing in the streets as one of the towers collapses, and the sheer amount of debris and just anguished sounds... it chokes me up even remembering it. Something about that really struck me as capturing a lot of the feeling that day. I was thinking of watching just that one bit myself, for similar reasons as you've stated.
posted by Nattie at 12:09 PM on September 8, 2011

Best answer: The gold standard is Nicole Rittenmeyer's film "102 MINUTES THAT CHANGED AMERICA"--no vo.

"The film depicts in virtually real time the New York-based events of the September 11 attacks primarily using raw video footage from mostly amateur citizen journalists."
posted by Ideefixe at 1:32 PM on September 8, 2011 [5 favorites]

I would second Fahrenheit 9/11. The portion that focused on the day's attacks was unusually subtle filmmaking for Moore, and it is perhaps more powerful because of that subtlety.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:59 PM on September 8, 2011

Response by poster: The FPP looks like the closest so far, I will watch the news clips provided by tonight. Thank you.

Re: 102 Minutes That Changed America. That seems to fit most of my requirements, thanks. I'd prefer something much shorter that also includes commercial TV broadcasts but may buy it anyway.

Re: Fahrenheit 9/11. Thanks for a suggestion that I would not have come up with. Moore appears so transparently manipulative in everything I've seen (admittedly in brief clips) that it's hard to imagine he would be capable of a straightforward presentation of an event. Can anyone who dislikes Moore confirm that he plays this portion straight?

If anyone else has ideas, please, keep them coming.
posted by wnissen at 2:27 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The 9/11 News Archive has way, way, way too much info, but also has a summary of network footage as it happened.
posted by TishSnave at 4:17 PM on September 8, 2011

Sorry, should have read more carefully as EmpressCallipygos gave the same info hours ago.
posted by TishSnave at 4:19 PM on September 8, 2011

The video "What We Saw" might be appropriate. It's about 20 minutes of unedited footage shot by a couple who lived 500 yards away from the North Tower, capturing both towers' collapse but neither plane's impact. There is no voice-over or narration, just their reactions to the events unfolding in front of them. It's quite powerful.
posted by googly at 4:24 PM on September 8, 2011

Seconding 102 Minutes That Changed America. I just watched it last night, as a matter of fact, and I can't get it out of my head. The film consists of video recordings from people on the ground in and around lower Manhattan. I'd never seen any of this footage before; according to History Channel, the US Government released it for the first time to them.

If you're looking for video of the event as it happened, before it became politicized by people who weren't there, that's exactly what this is. There are so many chilling moments in this film; watching and hearing the reactions of the various camerapeople as it unfolded in real time reminds you of the real human tragedy that took place. I think a lot of us have seen the footage, the documentaries and the clinical play by plays so much, we forget the uncertainty and horror we all felt that day.

I know it's about 72 minutes longer than you said you wanted, but it's worth checking out. Seeing the event from the perspective of the firehouse across the street from the towers, from the perspective of a couple trying to keep their young kids from looking out the window and seeing what's going on, from the perspective of a reporter walking through the abandoned lobby of 7 WTC and the paper strewn streets of lower Manhattan, from the perspective of people running desperately to escape the dust cloud only for it to engulf them, to see it as people lived it, without spin, is something worth doing.

This year, avoid the pandering on the news and remember it as what it really was, if you must remember it at all.
posted by malapropist at 5:18 PM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

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