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4.6 out of 5 stars
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 20 January 2001
Kevin MacDonald's gloriously exhilarating and fascinating documentary charts the events surrounding the 1972 Munich Olympic Games, when the Palestinian terrorist group Black September took several Israeli athletes hostage - with tragic consequences. From the sparse but effective narration by Michael Douglas to the unbiased approach, this is a class act through and through. Much of the documentary focuses on the German government and the Olympic Committee's ineffective handling of the situation and the way in which real people's lives were put at risk for what descended into a media circus of the worst kind. A horrifying reminder of what complacency at the most dire of times can do.
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on 8 June 2017
Great Hank's.
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on 31 May 2007
If you do not watch documentaries, watch this and you will be converted. The slow release onto the celluloid is mesmerising and compelling: it just keeps getting better and better.

No padding, no dodgy dialogue, no script boobs; just an incredible story packed into a relatively short period of screen-time. It feels as though every image, every frame has been chosen specifically to drive the story.

Basically, this film sucks you in, grabs you by the neck and delivers such a painful sucker-punch that it leaves you shaking, quite literally.

Buy it, watch it and wonder how the hell someone let the mess in 1972 ever happen.
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on 6 September 2004
I don't think anyone could watch this film and not be moved . .to anger as well as tears. The hopeless (as we know now) situation of the Israeli hostages is interspersed with interviews with many of the people involved that day, and with coverage of the Olympic events themselves. Though we know how it's going to end, the almost unbearable tension is palpable.
This video is rated 12 and over. Would I be happy for a 12-year-old to see close-up photographs of the dead hostages ? Depends on the 12-year-old, I think.
The apparent lack of remorse in the only surviving terrorist remains the most chilling aspect of this film, whilst the daughter placing sunflowers on the grave of the father she cannot remember remains the most poignant.
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on 12 September 2008
A compelling account of the tragedy at the Munich Olympic Games. Michael Douglas lends his voice to what can only be described as a superb piece of documentary film making by Kevin McDonald. One Day In September captivates the viewer from start to finish, documenting the tragic events and seemingly hopeless circumstances of all involved in and around 31 Connollystrasse, September the 5th 1972. With interviews from the Israeli athletes families, the then German negotiators and the only surviving terrorist Jamal Al-Gashey. The suspense and tension created while watching will make you not want to leave the room.
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on 7 November 2012
It's not often you watch something that completely changes your opinion of an event. I was born the year of the Munich Olympic Games and although I thought I was familiar with events I had always laboured under the impression that the German security forces had tried their utmost to save the Israelis and that their meticulous planning and professionalism had met with bad luck. Now I know I'm wrong! This documentary is a searing indictment to the incompetence of the Germans. I will never think of events in the same light. As for what happened afterwards... If you don't know or haven't seen the film yet I won't disclose now, but it was perhaps the most shocking revelation of all. Michael Douglas narrates - though I wasn't convinced what this added.
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on 27 July 2012
This documentary is quite captivating, and surely serves to illustrate why more recent Olympiads such as the one in London that has its Opening Ceremony tonight involve security measures on such a massive scale.
The documentary also managed to illustrate very convincingly the abject failure of the German / Bavarian police forces at the time to deal with the crisis at hand. This was partly due to the fact that (for historical reasons I suppose) the German constitution did not really Germany's armed forces to deal with such internal crises. This, together with the fact that such an incident was unprecedented at the time, and therefore, there were no police forces available that were trained to deal with this kind of incident, may help to explain the German failure, although the sheer scale of this failure is nonetheless breathtaking even when considering these "mitigating circumstances".

However, as often with documentaries, the devil is in the details. So is at one point suggested that Israel offered its own trained specialist security forces to deal with the crisis, but as the hostage-takers were pressing for time by negotiating relatively quickly for a plane to leave the country, the question remains whether these Israeli forces could have been brought in on time anyway.

And while the German security forces surely did bungle up this one big time, the Mossad agents who subsequently avenged the athletes' and coaches' death did a bit of bungling up themselves, e.g. by killing an innocent Morrokan waiter in Norway in front of his pregnant Norwegian wife, because they mistook him for one of the masterminds of the attack (although he was 20 cm shorter and happened to speak fluent Norwegian).

The very graphic footage of the bloodied bodies of the hostages towards the end of the documentary was almost a bit too much, and gave my partner nightmares after watching the film (although admittedly she is quite a sensitive person).

Near the end there was just a hint of suggestion that the German authorities may have had a hand in a subsequent hi-jacking of a German plane by Palestinians that was carried out to free the 3 Palestinian hostage-takers, as explained by Michael Douglas's voice from the off, followed by interview replies by some German politicians to some question which may or may not be identical with the said comment by Michael Douglas. This appeared to be quite speculative ("why were there only 12 passengers on board of the plane"?) and was not backed up by any real evidence.

All in all, I found the documentary a little bit one-sided. Although it did a good job at explaining the tragic events at the Munich Olympiad, it did not provide much of a historical context for these events apart from a very short bit at the beginning of the film the first time part of the interview with the one remaining Palestinian hi-jacker is shown.

Although One Day in September is a rather good documentary, for the above reasons I do not fully share the enthusiasm of the majority of my fellow reviewers, and I can give only four stars.
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on 24 April 2012
If you are interested in the Munich 1972 Olympics and especially in those fatal events which happened on September 5th ... THIS will give you all the answers to your Q's. I didn't know all the unbelievable details about that epic fail of the German attempts to free the Israeli hostages. We are all aware of the fact that it turned out extremely bad - a total desaster. Watch it and get caught by every minute of that movie.
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on 3 May 2015
Based on the tragic events that took place in Munich Germany 1972,Olympic Games where the Israeli Olympic Team were competing in the Olympics,suddenly found themselves at the mercy of the Palestinian Black September Group.very gripping,very fascinating documentary film narrated ny Michael Douglas,Simply Outstanding,just a very sad case of affair all round.but very informative.
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I'm not sure why this doesn't appear on DVD on Amazon UK - as it's available in certain chain-stores in the high street with a sticker alluding to Steven Spielberg's recent 'Munich.'
1999's 'One Day in September' is one of the great documentaries and should be of appeal to anyone who has enjoyed Kevin Macdonald's popular 'Touching the Void' (as it uses a similar style) or Spielberg's recent 'Munich.' It towers over the patchy recent BBC2 and Channel 4 documentaries on the response to Black September and appears to have been a key influence on the approach of Michael Winterbottom's controversial 'The Road to Guantanomo' (2006) alongside the aforementioned 'Touching the Void.'
'one day in SEPTEMBER' is based on the Faber book of the same name and deals with the hostage crisis initiated in Munich in September of 1972 as West Germany held the 'Olympics of Peace and Joy.' Unlike Spielberg's 'Munich' (2005) we get some idea of the kind of things that drove the members of Black September - which is not to say they are approved of, but give context. & let's recall key Israeli politicians have roots in terrorism committed by gangs such as the Irgun and Stern (though Spielberg's film does reference Israel's bombing of Palestinian refugee camps in response for Munich - something that isn't here). Jeremy Bowen's book on the 1967 War is a good reader regarding the backdrop of Munich, Black September and those acts that followed (some of which are covered in the excellent documentary 'The Power of Nightmares').
Macdonald's documentary is as vital as 1975's Vietnam-docu 'Hearts & Minds' - a similar style is shown where the story is more or less left to tell itself. We don't need a Michael Moore-style character prancing around with his ego and baseball cap here. Macdonald makes great use of archive footage, which is cut not only to news stories and visual/aural interviews but some music - Deep Purple's 'Child in Time' and several pieces by Philip Glass. This is all nailed together with Michael Douglas' excellent narration - clearly the late 90s/early 00's found Mr Douglas politically engaged - involved with this documentary and the controversial drugs epic 'Traffic' (2000).
The quotes on the sleeve of this from Alan Parker, Jonathan Ross and Sight and Sound are correct - 'One Day in September' is compulsive viewing, brilliantly put together (I'd say it's the definition of what a documentary is) and as gripping as any fictional thriller. It is also handy to watch as the two recent documentaries on the Black September attack/the Mossad-assassination response were flawed and somewhat vague. Spielberg's 'Munich' is a bold failure - fictionalising where it isn't necessary and fusing together the climax of the Black September gang's attack in Munich with an embarrassing sexual scene that says to me...very little. Watching this it's clear that Spielberg wasn't clear on the actual events of Munich and dramatised some elements - as is clear here, they did not need dramatising at all and comparing the Black September gang of the documentary to that of 'Munich' shows that Spielberg was not interested in their story that much...
'One Day in September' was controversial, coming at the point just before Ariel Sharon provoked the second intifada and getting the same type of censure as the recent 'Munich' & 'Paradise Now' have. 'Munich' is much more lightweight in its criticism (if any...) of Israeli policy/the Palestine issue - while 'Paradise Now' hasn't been released here but isn't showing anything that hasn't already been touched upon by 'The Battle of Algiers' or 'The Terrorist.' 'One Day in September' was accused of using moral relativism, of giving approval to terrorism and might be nixed by Tony Blair's proposed laws against something that glorifies terrorism (especially when we see three survivors of Black September released to a press conference after a pseudo-hijacking set up by the West German authorities...). I think those criticisms are wrong - 'One Day in September' takes a long brilliant cold look at events - we get an interview with the last remaining member of Black September, while we also interview relatives of those Israelis murdered in Munich. I see that as balanced - I'm sure some Palestinian's criticised the documentary for similar reasons. This documentary never forgets we're dealing with humans - whichever side- and I feel it is obligatory viewing set against the backdrop of the current war on terror.
'One Day in September' is a brilliant documentary and one that I'd value alongside such excellent examples as 'Touching the Void', 'Shoah', 'Hearts & Minds', 'The Fog of War', 'The Sorrow & the Pity', 'Baader Meinhof: In Love with Terror', 'The Filth & the Fury' & 'The West.' It also puts paid to the notion that the Oscar-folks have suddendly started to nominate/award controversial/liberal and/or political works like 'Brokeback Mountain', 'The Constant Gardener',Crash', the Clooney double-whammy and 'Paradise Now'. What about 'Philadelphia', 'Bowling for Columbine', 'Hearts & Minds', 'The Deer Hunter', 'Reds', 'Vera Drake', 'Mississippi Burning', 'The Accused', 'Traffic' and 'One Day in September'?
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