Judge David Gutierrez respects this powerful glimpse into ground zero from those who lived it.
Our review of 7 Days in September, published May 4th, 2014, is also available.
"All you have to do is think about, 'What if your son is up there?' Or your daughter's up there? That's all you need to think."
Tuesday, September 11, 2001 is a day you don't want to remember but know you can't forget.
Facts of the Case
Several New Yorkers pulled out their video cameras and documented first hand one of the worst days in American history, as well as the days that followed. 7 Days in September compiles footage from twenty-seven of these filmmakers into a remarkable documentary.
From the second plane impact to the rescue effort to the days of body retrieval, the documentary draws from the experiences of random New Yorkers to let the world feel what it was like to be there.
Normally, I don't personalize reviews, but I'll make an exception in this case. Like the previous generation, the one that can tell you what they were doing when Kennedy was shot, we know what we were doing at the moment the planes hit the World Trade Center. I heard about it on my way to work. I live in Los Angeles, completely on the other side of the country. Still, people were scared that day. Everyone (except my boss, who remarked that American Airlines stockholders must be the ones really worried) was wondering if something was going to happen here. Nothing did. I never found out what it was like for our brothers and sisters in New York—at least not until 7 Days in September.
7 Days in September is brutal, but it's honest. It documents fear, paranoia, shock, hate, frustration and powerlessness. Intercut with first person testimonials of those that were there, the documentary takes viewers to the time and place after the first plane impacted tower one. It is difficult to relive.
7 Days in September gives a unique glimpse into the spirit of camaraderie New Yorkers displayed when they helped one another. Some filmmakers shot the relief efforts that followed the tragedy. Bags of food and medical supplies were donated by the survivors. Everyone stepped up to help.
One filmmaker documented the arguing that took place over what the United States should do next. What might end up in a fistfight became tears and hugging. I don't think anyone could watch this with a dry eye. I think it's impossible.
In a David Mamet Playboy interview, Mamet spoke about the concept of emotional pornography. He was referring Schindler's List when he described the cheap shots at emotion the film employed. I feared this documentary would do the same. Luckily, it didn't. It'll make you feel like you've been put through the wringer, but it should. Thankfully, 7 Days in September is not exploitive and doesn't attempt to inject politics or opinion; it simply shows what life was like for New Yorkers.
The film quality varies throughout. Since footage is taken from a variety of film stocks and sources, it is uneven but not as bad as one might expect. The picture is strong and clear for the most part. The sound comes in clearly as well. Anchor Bay did a wonderful job of making this audible.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
7 Days in September is tough to watch. If a reminder of 9/11 is too much for you to bear, you'd best skip it.
Should 7 Days in September be watched? Most definitely. For those who weren't there, it's a testament to those we lost and those that helped.
Go see it.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
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