WTC: THE FIRST 24 HOURS
Review by Michael Jacobson
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Full Frame 1.33:1
Features: Photo Gallery
Length: 48 Minutes, including extras
Release Date: June 25, 2002
At the time of this writing, it has been almost a year
since 9/11, and it’s still hard to believe we live in a world without the twin
towers of the World Trade Center. The
pain and horror of that day is still as real to me as the day it happened.
They say time eventually lessens the anguish, and I believe that.
It’s just that some things take a lot more time than others.
First 24 Hours is a somber look back at our modern day of infamy in two
forms…the original version, which was about 10 minutes in length, and an
extended version, which runs about half an hour.
By comparison, I prefer the longer version, as it actually starts with
the images of the towers ablaze and falling…though not via the best camera
angles we saw on the news, still potent enough to preserve a dark piece of
American history for all time.
This film is a study in images with no spoken words.
There are no politics here, no analysis, no objective lessons to be
learned…none of the things that make each of our individual experiences with
9/11 so personal. All we have is a
tragedy and the immediate aftermath…it may not be the ideal film to watch today,
but someday, our grandchildren will ask about that tragic day, and this disc
might just be one we pull out to begin the discussion.
Each picture speaks a thousand words, and it’s hard to
say exactly what is the most horrifically mesmerizing. The sight of the towers falling is an easy choice, but what
about the eerily quiet and empty streets of Manhattan? No traffic, very little noise, no people apart from the
rescue workers and clean up crews beginning the work that was only recently
completed. I doubt New York has
ever been that still before. I pray
to God it never will be again.
Etienne Sauret both directed and filmed this documentary
with an eye for detail. Look at the
shoe shine stands or the weight rooms completely dilapidated and covered in dust
and debris and see how quickly an international center for commerce became a
ghost town in and of itself. Look
down upon the wreckage from high angles and see how far and wide the devastation
really was. Look at the fireman
braving the wreckage, calling out against hope that somebody alive under all
that debris would answer.
I don’t know how many Americans will be ready for this
film at this time…but at least this disc will be around for when we are ready.
The program was shot on video, and judging from the
quality, I’d have to guess digital video…it looks terrific from beginning to
end. The level of detail is far
greater than you’d expect without using film, including natural looking and
well-separated colors. Even some of
the shots that show haze from the smoke and dust maintain integrity and clarity.
Very high marks.
Though the box says stereo, I’m happy to report this disc
contains a full 5.1 mix, which, despite the lack of dialogue or music, is very
effective. The dynamic range is
particularly impressive; the feature goes from quiet and somber to suddenly
brash and loud with no warning, and no distortions or muddling.
Both stages are used for background sounds like rescue vehicles and such.
A quality effort.
Only a photo gallery.