Plot: What’s it about?
The Olympics are supposed to be an event where political differences are pushed aside, in favor of international friendship and basic competition. This has been the case at most Olympic events and it seemed as if the Munich games in 1972 would be the same way, until terror surfaced and engulfed the world’s attentions. Germany was desperate to shed the militaristic reputation it had, so security was relaxed and only unarmed guards were present, as the police were banned from the grounds. This allowed eight men to sneak onto the grounds, march into the village where the athletes stayed, and begin an assault on Israeli delegates. These men were armed and masked, members of a Palestinian terrorist squad and their mission was a grim one indeed. The terrorists stormed into the quarters of the Israeli athletes and coaches, where they took eleven hostages and were prepared to kill them if their demands were not met within five hours. The men demanded the release of about two hundred political prisoners, which Israel stated would not happen, not under any circumstances would they allow for them to be released. This is the story of the eight terrorists, eleven hostages, and the German authorities, all under the close watch of the world’s eyes, via television and radio programs.
As a film in the traditional sense, One Day In September is excellent in all respects, great storyline, terrific editing, solid direction, and some suspense & tension like you’d never believe. In other words, this film grabs you by the throat and never lets go, even after the closing credits have scrolled by your eyes. But this is not a traditional film, it is a documentary and on that level, I feel this is a flawed effort in the end. I know the actions of the terrorists were extreme and shouldn’t have happened, but this piece is very biased and that shouldn’t be seen in documentary films, at least not in my opinion. By presenting all the facts, a documentary can show unbiased reflections, but I don’t feel as though this movie shows all the details, not even close. We learn very little about the terrorists, their reasons for staging the attacks, or scant other details about their issues, which leaves half of the story untold, at least in my eyes. The oversight is inexcusable from a documentary viewpoint, but the still works well and even won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature, so you know it was well made. I recommend this with some hesitations, but even with the vast amount of missing information, this is a story that needs to be told and this is the most complete version I’ve seen.
Video: How does it look?
One Day In September is presented in a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. This is a documentary film and as such, lacks the refinement of a normal feature film, but this is an excellent visual presentation nonetheless. The elements used to create this piece included television broadcasts, live videotape from the scene, newly recorded interviews, still photos, and more, so the quality varies from clip to clip, as is to be expected. Of course, the more recent footage looks better, but all the elements have presented in best form possible, which is what counts. I am very pleased with this image and I think Columbia/Tristar has given this film the treatment it deserves.
Audio: How does it sound?
This disc uses a more than adequate 2.0 surround, which makes use of native languages, with English subtitles offered in non English moments. This is made up of dialogue for the most part, but some spark is present at times and that helps liven up the mix a little. But as is usually the case for documentaries, too much dynamic audio can be a distraction, so I am glad this is a conservative, but effective mix. The dialogue seems clean and very crisp, even the older materials come across very well, impressive indeed.
Supplements: What are the extras?
You’ll find some talent files, but no other bonus materials were included.