New York: The Center of the World
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In this final chapter of Ric Burns's acclaimed series New York: A Documentary Film, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE presents a powerful portrait of the events leading up to and away from the fall of 2001. It chronicles the construction of the towers and explores the astonishing expansion of American economic power during the second half of the twentieth century.
From the Back Cover
In this eighth and final installment of New York: A Documentary Film, Ric Burns explores the history of the construction of the Twin Towers; how the city came to be the world's financial power house; the events that culminated with the attacks on September 11, 2001; and the aftermath and recovery of the city and her people. END
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But best of all is Phillipe Petit, who did an electrifying tightwire show between the towers back in the 70s. His performance humanized these huge, cold buildings (to paraphrase Hamill from the film). Petit brings a love of life, New York City, and especially the World Trade Center to the proceedings that makes his segment the "Center of the Center of the World." The documentary "Man On Wire" covers the event in more detail.
So go order this episode right now. It's historic, informative, entertaining, moving, educational, witty, heartwrenching, and any other positive thing you can say about a 3 hour film. PBS gets a lot of flack for their programming, but they achieved perfection with this baby.
It chronicles the construction of the towers. Somehow, to me this feels much less compelling than the masterful section of disc 5 of the Series, which chronicles the competition between the construction of the Chrysler Building and the Empire State.
However, even though anyone who can operate a DVD player knows the inevitable conclusion, it is incredibly troubling (even painful) to watch, and as another reviewer says, it is almost impossible to turn away form the screen. As another reviewer has correctly said, it is still painful to watch.
I did give this only four stars, though, because while this was indeed a epoch - switching event, there was an AWFUL lot of New York history in between the late sixties and 2001 which I think
was given the short end of the stick in Vol. 8. The decline of the City after its pre-WWII preeminence, the turbulence of the decade of the sixties and the anti-war movement, the racial awareness and concomitant strife, the ravages of drug proliferation, welfare reliance and then somehow the resurgence of New York economically in the '90's were too briefly touched upon in Vol. 7 and I think could have explored here in greater detail. I think that few would assert that until 9-11, the W.T.C. would not have merited such attention. But given the context of this single cataclysmic event which it did chronicle, perhaps I judge too harshly...
There are fewer characters presented than in the rest of the series, including former Governor Cuomo, Former Mayor Koch (staggeringly poignant in his description an encounter with the family of a 9-11 victim) and still-journalist Pete Hamill (it seems to me that he has aged a ton since the earlier episodes).
We are still way too close to the event to be able to determine the long term effect on New York, America or the world. Nonetheless, this is a fitting end to the Series.
I was on the street within 2 or 3 minutes of the first plane hitting. I saw the second plane hit tower 2.
No matter what you saw on TV, you can't imagine.
It was a day of extraordinary power and emotion, fear, sorrow and loss, surreal - the knowledge that you'd seen something as profound as the JFK assination, the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Epic in scale, gobal in impact, yet inherently intimate. Your own personal disaster movie.
This Ric Burns film is an amazing thing. It's just great. I've watched it a dozen times and I don't get tired of it - the writing, the music, the history, the wisdom - the personal feelings of a diverse and meaningful group of New Yorkers. It's historic, epic, emotional - up to the task of documenting the impact of 9/11 on New York.
It represents all the things that make New York great: ambition, literacy, reflection, humanity, wonder, perspective. The use of Philippe Petit - the French high wire man - as a linking device...was inspired.
A stunning thing.
This particular video shows a timeline from morning until evening that really gives a breath-taking perspective of the events of that day. No one can watch this and not be moved. We recommend this video to everyone whenever we get the chance--buy it, you won't be sorry!
The film can be viewed as a part of the larger series -- New York: a Documentary Film -- but stands alone as well.
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