Monday 11 July 2005

One Day in September (2000) - ickleReview (video)

The most chilling photograph I have ever seenDocumentary about the terrorist kidnapping at the 1972 Munich Olympics. 8 Palestinian terrorists (calling themselves "Black September") stormed the Olympic Village apartments of the Israeli team early on the morning of 5 September, taking 11 hostages. They shot one of them in the initial struggles and a second one later when he attempted to seize one of the weapons the terrorists were carrying. He later died lying amongst his tied-up Israeli teammates in the apartment room.

The terrorists demanded that around 200 Palestinian prisoners be released from jails worldwise, otherwise they would execute the hostages at 12 noon. German police tried to negotiate with them and eventually managed to secure an extended deadline of 5pm. This, too, passed.

Director Kevin Macdonald pieces together a thrilling narrative using a rich archive of television news and film footage. This was an unprecedented world stage for the Palestinians to raise awareness of their oppression by the Israeli state in the Middle East. All the media did was help them by giving the stunt blanket coverage. At one stage, German police officers, comically dressed in athletes' tracksuits, tried to storm the building in which the hostages were being held. East German television were covering it live, however, so the terrorists could see exactly what was going on, watching the TV in their apartment.

This was just one of many atrocious slip-ups by the German authorities. The Olympic organizers were putting pressure on the police to let the Games return to normal as soon as possible. Some events were still taking place on that day - 5 September 1972 - and in awful bad taste, the Games continued the following day, after the hostage situation had come to an end. (I won't spoil the tension for you by telling you what happened.)

Nugget: a remarkable piece of filmmaking by the director of Touching the Void (2003). The world in 1972 was a much more naive and inexperienced place when it came to dealing with terrorism. Today, with our wall-to-wall coverage, which effectively encourages more attacks to take place, we are not much better, and much less innocent.

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