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One Day in September (1999)

4.3 out of 5 stars 60 customer reviews

Additional DVD options Edition Discs
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(Apr 24, 2001)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The 1999 Academy Award(r)-winning documentary feature gives new insights into the 1972 Munich massacre - the murder of 11 Israeli athletes by a group of Palestinian extremists. For the first time, the lone surviving member of the extremist group (who has been in hiding for 28 years) speaks about the horrible events and provides the first account from his perspective.

On September 5, 1972, eight Palestinian terrorists killed two Israeli athletes and took nine others hostage at the Munich Olympic Village. The event stopped the games, gripped the world, and perhaps for the first time fully illustrated the volatile state of affairs in the Mideast to the world. Kevin Macdonald's 1999 Academy Award(r)-winning documentary painstakingly reconstructs the events, shedding light on what the world saw on television with the exasperating revelation of behind-the-scenes blunders.

This visceral, tense film uses riveting news footage to great effect, weaving in affecting interviews. Macdonald mourns the deaths of the innocent Olympic hostages and dutifully gives a voice to the Palestinian cause through interviews with Jamal al-Gashey, the only survivor of the eight terrorists, who briefly came out of hiding for the film. He earnestly but half-heartedly sketches a picture of the social and political situation that fueled the act, reserving his anger for the grossly unprepared German police force. The tragedy that erupted at the Fürstenfeldbruck air base becomes all the more upsetting in light of the incompetence and unforgivable mistakes: botched rescues, poor planning, bad intelligence, and lack of contingency plans. Even the irresponsibility of the media circus gets off lightly. It's a sobering, angering, often frustrating piece of non-fiction cinema, a thorough piece of historical research brought to life with an angry immediacy. Macdonald simply doesn't know what lessons to draw from it all. --Sean Axmaker

Special Features

  • Talent files

Product Details

  • Actors: Michael Douglas
  • Directors: Kevin Macdonald
  • Producers: John Battsek, Arthur Cohn
  • Format: Anamorphic, Black & White, Closed-captioned, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: German (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: April 24, 2001
  • Run Time: 97 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000059H77
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #166,488 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "One Day in September (1999)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
Even though you know the outcome--11 Israeli Olympians and coaches killed by terrorists--this Academy Award-winning documentary will keep you on the edge of your seat. "One Day in September" depicts the tragic hostage crisis at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Among those interviewed is the one surviving terrorist, who describes his training and how thrilled he felt to be doing something for Palestine.
The recollections of Ankie Spritzer, widow of the Israeli fencing coach, particularly make the viewer experience the horror of having a loved one held captive. Mrs. Spritzer describes how she wondered whether her husband was alive or dead when the news reported than an unnamed hostage had been murdered, and later, her elation at reports that the remaining hostages were safe at the airport, and finally, how she received the horrible news that the rescue attempt had gone terribly wrong. Seeing the daughters who grew up never knowing their fathers brings home the continuing sadness of this event.
Kevin Macdonald's documentary also includes an interview with the head of the Massad who was denied permission to send in an Israeli rescue team and was assured that the Germans could manage the situation. The Massad chief bitterly recalls the numerous unthinkable errors that the Germans made: Extremely light security to avoid the impression of being heavy handed. Failing to seal off the Olympic Village from news crews, which resulted in tipping off the terrorists when an early rescue attempt was broadcast on live TV. Underestimating the number of terrorists and placing insufficient sharpshooters at the airport when the terrorists were allowed to leave with the hostages.
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Format: DVD
I bought the original DVD release of "One Day in September," director Kevin MacDonald's 1999 Oscar-winner (for Best Documentary Feature; it overtook in the race Wim Wenders's beloved "Buena Vista Social Club") when it first became available. It now appears that the Dec. 20, 2005 DVD release is a re-release (or should I say re-issue?); but it appears to be at a cheaper price ($15-$20 range vs. the older one in the low- to mid-$20s). Based on my research, this DVD will have more features, including Text/Photo Galleries and Bonus Trailers (the original was a bare-bones basic). The DVD looks like a worthy buy, and I intend to get it for a relative of mine who has yet to add it to his/her library. (Side note: Even though this hasn't been released yet, please bear in mind the "5" rating is based on my appreciation for the film -- and enthusiasm for the content of this new DVD release. Amazon reviews force "written reviews" to offer a rating. I would've prefered using a "-" for the time being. Nevertheless, this is a recommended buy no matter the star-rating.)

"One Day in September" is a documentary account of the 1972 Munich Olympics game -- in West Germany -- that was the first in its country since Adolf Hitler was in power. This Olympics was much-anticipated because Germany wanted to make amends for its past; however, it became overshadowed by the hostage crises of Tuesday, Sept. 5 involving [11] Israel athletes, housed in the same building, who were held by Palestinians at gunpoint. (Those who want to read up on what -- and how it all -- transpired can find plenty of info on Web sites related to this topic. I recommend doing the research.
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Format: DVD
Two recent events made me watch this...the recent anniversary (Sept. 5, 1972) and much much more, the terror in America (Sept. 11, 2001). While the events are not related terrorism is terrorism. I didn't know a ton about this horrific event, but after viewing the film, I was shaken.
The film makers make an engrossing film. Peter Jennings is featured (shades of 9/11/01). It is like, as another reviewer wrote, like a true thriller. I was astounded by the cruelty of the IOC (well, they are criminals in recent years, but bribes and ignoring death are different crimes). The completely pathetic response of the Germans (Willy Brandt has blood on his hands here)--who, according to one particularly chilling interviewee abandoned the airplane("it was a suicide mission") and may have lead to the Israelis doom. The interview with the lone Palestinian survivor is illuminating and frightening. As mistakes by Germans, Arabs, etc piled up, I wanted to freeze the film and somehow change history. In the end, blame belongs most of all to terrorists. But more than blame, the 11 Israelis were heroes and deserve to be remembered in history.
Oh and the next time some idiot complains about the recent suspensions of football or baseball, tell them to rent to this. They won't complain again.
A worthy purchase and one that is tragically, even more relevant today than ever.
Comment 47 of 55 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: VHS Tape
This film did an excellent job of retelling a significant event that has been downplayed or simply forgotten in the hopes that "progress", coexistence and my personal favorite, "peace" can be attained in the Middle East. This film brought back my first memories as a child watching the Olympics and not understanding why this wonderful event that brings the world together had been brought to a fatal halt in the name of world politics. Unfortunately, as we experienced with the United States boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics and the Soviet/Communist Block boycott of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, the Munich Massacre would not be the last time that we would see the Olympic games utilized as a political soapbox. Macdonald did an excellent job of bringing in footage and interviews that we were not privvy to in the pre-cable days of the 1970's. The family interviews showed tragic and destructive memories that continue to pain the victims nearly 30 years later. The sadly unprepared and unqualified German security was unconscionable. Opposition against the Israel had been occuring ever since it was restored in 1948. War was declared against Israel in 1948 by neighboring Arab nations, the Sinai Campain/Suez Canal blockage of the 1950's, and the Six Day War in 1967 just to name a few events that marked the need for increased security for the Israeli team. Not to mention that just the gesture of increased security by the German government would have been a huge public relations boost to rid themselves of their recent reputation ... But they chose not to do so.Read more ›
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