One Day in September
Details: (MA15+), 94 mins, Switzerland, English
Synopsis: The presence of the Israeli team at the 1972 Olympic Games held in Munich was imbued with symbolism. A team from the Jewish state was competing in Germany; indeed in the very city where Nazism was born. For their part, the Germans were intent on demonstrating to the world how far they had come since the war – how open and tolerant Germany had become. Security around the Olympic Village was relaxed in a display of openness in keeping with the friendly atmosphere of the Games. But when terrorists from the radical Palestinian group Black September entered the village and took 11 members of the Israeli team hostage, the veneer of camaraderie was shattered as the Games were dragged violently onto the world’s political stage.
The grim images and interviews are interweaved together so perfectly to tell a tragic story.
On September 5th, 1972, during the Munich Olympics, members of a radical Palestinian group, Black September, infiltratred the under-guarded Olympic Village and killed two members of the Israeli team, taking nine others hostage. During the succeeding hours, Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir refused the Palestinian demands to free hundreds of prisoners and the German authorities proved hopelessly ill-equipped to deal with the crisis.
This astonishing documentary, which won the Oscar this year, is, on one level, a gripping, edge-of-the-seat thriller. British director Kevin McDonald has managed to interview the one surviving member of the Black September unit, and his contribution is vitally important to the film`s success. We also meet the families of two of the Israelis who died, and there are interviews with many officials and witnesses, as well as all the tv footage that was shot at the time. Though I remember the incident vividly (I was in Rome that day), I`d forgotten many of the details, so that the film, as it inexorably unfolds, kept surprising me. A fine example of reworking newsreel material with interviews to tell a quite rounded story of a terrible tragedy, this is an outstanding film.
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