A powerful, intense documentary that won Best Documentary Feature at the 1999 Oscars, "One Day In September" focuses on one day in September, 1972, when Palestinian terrorists entered into where the olympic atheltes were staying in Munich and took Israeli team members hostage in exchange for the release of a large number of prisoners. After a botched attempt at a rescue by German officers (as well as a number of other failures), tragedy struck and lives were lost.
The documentary brings nearly everything to the table that was involved in the proceedings. Some have not been terribly positive about the fact that the documentary almost seems more like a "thriller", but I almost consider the film's feel to be due to impressive editing and rapid, involving pacing that builds tension. The film comes in rather short at 91 minutes, but is still able to get a wealth of information across. Interviews are held with many of the individuals involved, including a surviving member of the terrorists who has gone into hiding, as well as a widow of one of the atheletes and others.
MacDonald's film takes us through every detail of the event, discussing what happened and revealing what happened to cause the events to end as badly as they did. The German committee hardly provided security and also attempted a raid that was poorly planned. The Olympic committee strangely allowed the events and sports to go onwards as planned until intense pressure and protest finally got them to halt the proceedings.
MacDonald does occasionally use things like slow-motion a bit too much, but it's astonishing to see the almost unbearable amount of tension that the filmmaker is able to bring to the proceedings - the film is extremely gripping. Also adding effectively to the film is occasional narration by Michael Douglas.
The film is not without a few concerns, but I must commend what must have been an enormous amount of research that the filmmakers must have done. Also, that they were able to get so many people who were involved to come forward and share their thoughts and feelings about what went on during that tragic day in September.
VIDEO: Tristar presents the documentary in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio, and it is anamorphic. Understandably, there is great variation from moment-to-moment in how the image quality is, as the movie uses footage from varying dates and sources. Sharpness is generally okay - some scenes appear sharp and well-defined, while others from different sources appear soft - but never hazy.
There are some sequences where marks, scratches and other wear are apparent on some of the older footage, but this wear shows up rather infrequently and I'd expected some similar flaws going in. Thankfully, no pixelation or edge enhancement is visible.
Colors, again, vary throughout the movie. Some scenes display more vibrant and natural looking colors, while some scenes appear faded. Other moments are in black and white. Still, I was pleased with how the material was presented overall for this DVD release.
SOUND: The film's Dolby 2.0 audio is generally "documentary-style" audio, presenting dialogue and interviews at the front of the audio, with occasional (and very effective) background score. Sound quality is very good - the film's excellent score sounds particularly clear and clean, and dialogue/narration is also clear and without flaw. Provides all that one would expect from a documentary like it in terms of the audio experience.
MENUS:: Basic, non-animated menus with film images as backgrounds for sub-menus & the cover for the main menu.
EXTRAS: Production notes and trailers for "Anne Frank Remembered", "Central Station" and "Savior".
Final Thoughts: A powerful, tragic and disturbing documentary, "One Day In September" is a documentary certainly worth a look. I would have liked to have further additional features - a commentary, etc, but the film itself does get fine treatment in terms of basic presentation.