Film Review: 102 Minutes That Changed America


The real-time footage is cut in a second by the second format – it’s truly terrifying

102 Minutes That Changed America removes all the politics, all the side scandal and presents you with the raw materials. A collection of various tapes either omitted from TV camera crews or just from regular bystanders or neighbours nearby. This along with “9/11”, is one of the most powerful pieces of film I’ve ever witnessed.

Released: 2008

Runtime: 1hr 42 mins

Presented in a timeline format, the documentary takes place in almost real-time. Occasionally a clock appears in fade to blacks, occasionally we have audio snippets to give us perspectives that aren’t shown on-screen, be it 911 calls or radioactivity from the fire crew. We literally go from start to end of the World Trade Centre attacks with these people as they watch in horror with us the events unfolding before them.


Be prepared to relive the experience and the emotions without the historical twists and political slants

What’s interesting from a historical point of view is that so many unseen camera viewpoints are shown which makes this documentary stand quite unique. Some of the post-collapse moments are truly terrifying. It also shows exactly what people were thinking at the exact time. Blind panic, fear, dread and immense sadness. It also shows the confusion as people talk about all different things they’ve heard along the way. Throughout the film, there is an ambient hum that meanders and fades in at specific times which usually works to excellent effect.

It’s very difficult to review a film like this because of the subject matter but the editing is absolutely superb and the concept of presenting everything in a single timeline is great as it keeps everything in perspective. The way how it’s literally edited clips and a bubbling undercurrent of ambience combined really means it’s about telling you what happened through the eyes of the world closest to the incident means that you can’t place a silly spin on it. This one really is to archive the footage and as harrowing as it is to watch, it’s important to never forget these important events that can shape a world.


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