Thursday, September 11, 2008

"102 Minutes that Changed America": History Channel recaps 9/11, almost in real time


Tonight the History Channel aired “102 Minutes that Changed America”, about New York City on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. It was advertised as a compilation of live video tapes and audio from news cameras and ordinary people. It was supposed to be in real time, but actually it compressed out about 15 minutes, starting at 9 PM and reaching the second building collapse in about 90 minutes of television time. Sometimes it showed a time counter running with no video.

The History Channel link is here.

The show did include overhearings of news clippings but it did not mention the Pentagon crash that occurred in about the middle of this period. Sometimes news banners on the streets show, but they don’t clearly depict the breaking news.

Probably the most terrifying part of the broadcast is the dust and debris cloud that followed each collapse. Amateur cameras captured the event of being overwhelmed by the could, a concept that would have sounded like Stephen King (“The Mist”) had it not really happened. Another part showed people jumping from World Trade Center I, while a bystander in an apartment building screams “no way,” shortly before the second plane hits. Shortly before WTC I collapsed (the second to fall even though it was the first tower bit), a fireman ran up the lower escalators into the smoky building looking for people.

Amazingly, 911 operators told people in the towers to stay put early during the incident.

The collapses are shown, but the South Tower buckling is not as clear here as in some other films.

The people on the streets did not mince words with their anger, but during the incident the identity of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda had not been widely mentioned until later in the day.

The film is followed by commentary by some of the journalists and photographers.

I actually visited WTC myself in 1973. I visited New York City the last Saturday of October in 2001. I also visited in November 2004. I lived there 1974-1978.

I have a file on a flat site that indexes all the films related to 9/11, here.

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