September 11th in the media

In the lead up to World Trade Center, I’ve recently been reading up on some of the background, though it was such a major event that I still remember the day quite clearly, even if it didn’t directly affect me. While searching the web for more information, it’s quite hard to discern fact from fiction, with all the “conspiracy theories” that are out there. The Wikipedia article does a pretty good job on the main background facts, and the 9/11 Commission Report is probably the most in-depth report you’ll find. (I actually bought the paperback version when it came out)

I won’t bother to cover the conspiracy theories here, instead sticking to the “official version” because I believe that’s more than enough – I’ve always been interested in the events surrounding September 11th, mainly because the coverage seemed so surreal because the actual events were so astonishing – perhaps the most important geopolitical event of our time, and if not, the most sensational. Here are some other documentaries about the event that you might find interesting.

The first one I saw was the 9/11 Chronology Video, which is a fairly-well done amalgamation of various news videos of that day, put together in a timeline that covers the events from 8:44 AM to about 10:30 AM, approximately in real time. I say “approximately”, because there are some gaps here and there. What’s interesting about this is that the chronology is shown with four separate panes of video, so after you see the second collision in one pane, you wait in anticipation for the President to be notified as he sits in a morning classroom with the kids.

I liked this chronology because it stays faithful to the facts, that is, though it has a commentary, the notes are directly drawn and referenced from the 9/11 Commission Report. It’s also fairly non-partisan, though some would argue it’s hard not to criticize President Bush as you see him sit in the classroom for almost 10 minutes after he is told the country is under attack. I don’t like to judge (I’m not sure how I would have responded so such a grave and high-stress situation), so I can only say this: If it were President Palmer (of the TV series 24), he would have had Jack Bauer on the line within 30 seconds!

But, on a more serious note, the chronology does a good job of conveying the confusion and destruction of that day, though some of the dialogue you here is much more ominous and foreboding; for example, one of the first Fire Chiefs to radio in the report of the first plane crash says something to the effect of, “… we have a number of floors on fire… it looks like the plane was aiming towards the building…”

Another good documentary I found was one that aired on the BBC that dealt with the causes behind the collapse of WTC1 and WTC2. It’s called The Fall of the World Trade Center, and was done by a group called Horizon. (You should be able to find it online) It showed a lot of good 3D animations along with expert opinion to back up the accepted explanations of why the Twin Towers fell – the main reasons being fire proofing that was blown off from the intial impact, leading to exposed metal that weakend from the ensuing fires. It was made back in 2002, so I don’t know why the people who a preaching the “controlled demolition theory” haven’t seen it – it offers a good explanation of the “exploding” or “detonation” sounds that many survivors heard – as the building collapsed, the floors “pancaked” down on top one another, which may explain the chain of loud noises heard.

I’m looking forward to seeing World Trade Center (the movie), sometime soon, despite it seeming like a big Hollywood-esque film. I saw United 93 back a few months ago, and was very moved by it. It was both well done, not-over the top, and at the same time had a lasting impression. I recommend that you see it when it comes on DVD if you haven’t already.

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