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DVD cover art.
|Written by||Tom Forman
|Directed by||Jules Naudet
|Starring||Robert De Niro as host|
|Narrated by||James Hanlon|
|Theme music composer||Richard Fiocca
|Country of origin||United States
|Running time||112 minutes|
|Original channel||CBS Television|
9/11 is a 2002 French-American documentary film about the September 11 attacks in New York City, in which two planes crashed into the buildings of the World Trade Center. The film is from the point of view of the New York City Fire Department. The film was directed by Jules and Gedeon Naudet, and FDNY firefighter James Hanlon.
Filmmakers James Hanlon and the Naudet brothers were originally filming Tony Benetatos, a probationary firefighter of the New York City Fire Department assigned to the Engine 7/Ladder 1/Battalion 1 Firehouse on Duane Street in Lower Manhattan with the intention of making a film about the "probie's" first experience as a firefighter. On the morning of September 11, the firehouse, under the direction of Battalion Chief Joseph Pfeifer, was called out on a reported "odor of gas" at Church and Lispenard Streets. Jules rode with Pfeifer to investigate, while Gedeon stayed behind at the firehouse with the "probie."
As the Battalion 1 firefighters examine the supposed gas leak, American Airlines Flight 11 flew overhead. Turning the camera to follow the plane, Jules taped one of only three known recordings of the first plane hitting the North Tower (Tower 1) of the World Trade Center, the others being a video shot by Pavel Hlava and a sequence of still frames taken by Wolfgang Staehle.
The firefighters, under the direction of Chief Pfeifer, were the first responders on the scene, and Jules was allowed to follow the chief during the attempted rescue operation. Jules, Chief Pfeifer and several other FDNY Chiefs were inside the lobby of Tower 1 when Tower 2 was hit by the second aircraft and when Tower 2 eventually collapsed (Gédéon, meanwhile, is back at the firehouse, filming the reactions of Tony Benetatos and the rest of the firefighters from the next shift as they try to deal with the disaster). The film gives various firemen's accounts of the events of the remainder of the day - from the initial crash to the building's collapse to the attempts to rescue survivors from the rubble - as well as the aftermath of the events and those who were lost, including Chief Pfeifer's brother, Engine 33 Lieutenant Kevin Pfeifer.
Reception and Releases
CBS aired 9/11 commercial-free on March 10, 2002, to mark the six months since the attacks. The film was watched by 39 million viewers, bringing in a rating/share of 22.3/33, and was the highest rated program that week. Hosted by actor Robert De Niro, CBS's broadcast was repeated on the first anniversary as well. The film aired in 103 countries in 2002 alone. The DVD of the documentary was released in proximity, although De Niro's footage was edited out of the DVD release. CBS re-aired the film, hosted again by De Niro, on September 10, 2006, the night before the fifth anniversary of the attacks. However, this version contained updates from the principal members of the documentary as of 2006.
The film was noted for its use of profanity, which in regular circumstances on American broadcast media would be subject to censorship by the broadcaster or the Federal Communications Commission. At the time of its broadcast, the FCC took no action against the network for violating indecency rules because doing so would have a negative connotation and would be interpreted as sanitizing history.
However, a recent ruling by a federal appeals court had successfully granted a "temporary halt" to the FCC's enforcement of its indecency rules. This allowed CBS and any affiliates to air the documentary without edits and without fear of facing stiff fines.
On Sunday, September 11, 2011, CBS broadcast 9/11: Ten Years Later, once again hosted by Robert De Niro. The aftershow was updated by the Naudet brothers, Hanlon and CBS News producer Susan Zirinsky to include new interviews and footage on the lives of those involved with the documentary ten years later. In addition to the rebroadcast of the original documentary, the show also focused on the building of the new One World Trade Center, and on the health problems facing many of the firemen at Ground Zero. DeNiro was to be joined by the Naudet brothers and James Hanlon, a former New York fireman-turned-film director who was also present that day. As with all previous broadcasts of the film, CBS aired repeated viewer discretion warnings before and during the broadcast.
- Sherrow, Rita (2011-09-11). "Documentary filmmakers captured moments of 9/11 tragedy". Tulsa World. Retrieved 2011-09-13.
- CBS's 9/11 Documentary Gets All-Clear
- Huff, Richard (2011-09-01). "Former FDNY member James Hanlon recalls steps that brought him to '9/11: Ten Years Later' doc". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2011-09-13.
- 62nd Annual Peabody Awards, May 2003.