March 23rd sees History (formerly The History Channel) screening ‘102 Minutes That Changed The World’, a new documentary looking at the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001. While the subject of 9/11 is one that has and no doubt will continue to be extensively examined for many years to come, this particular documentary differs from previous output with an approach that offers the viewer some new insight into the tragic events even though that sometimes means the material is uncompromising in its approach.

‘102 Minutes’ consists entirely of footage that was compiled by citizens of New York who lived through the attacks. There is no sense of traditional presentation or direct narrative, instead the documentary moves between pieces that were filmed on cameras and phones with audio interspersed where appropriate from the emergency services.

One might come to the conclusion that a film made from so many sources might not necessarily be one that hangs together in a cohesive fashion but there is little doubt that the editors have done a first rate job of putting the material together in such a way that the viewer gets an overview of what happened while remaining respectful of such delicate subject matter.

It also demonstrates the adversity the emergency services were up against on that day as the world and its media tried to decipher just what exactly had happened. In hindsight the information we now take for granted seemed to trickle through at a snail’s pace. Yet regardless of the risk and not always armed with the facts the Police and Fire Department risked and in some cases lost their lives trying to save others.
Eight years on and seeing the footage again remains as raw and devastating experience as it was in 2001, if anything this documentary often takes you closer than you would like to the experience. Yet at the same time offers itself as very important document of a terrible event that changed the world.