I was born in NYC, and worked in and around the Twin Towers for over a decade before they fell. I remember the long way up where you had to switch elevators in a mid-level lobby to go to the top floors. On the ground floor, there was a distinctive chime that rang whenever an elevator came down and was about to open up. The carpet was I think lavender colored? and very thick, which was great when you were wearing heels. But working there, from the inside, if you weren't an executive with a window office, chances were you would be surrounded by walls without a view of the outside all day. You might as well been working underground except on windy days, you could feel the building swaying. I'd say, if you weren't near a window, it was not a great place to work, the World Financial Center across the highway is better if you want that kind of ambiance. I had a premonition going back to before 9/11, maybe from the bomb that hit the parking garage a few years earlier(that story is long forgotten now) that this was not an ideal place to work. So when 9/11 happened, I was clear across the country in California, watching it all unfold on the news.
And now watching this documentary after the pandemic, the latter still unfolding from a historical context, makes me wonder if people who were not born during the incident will feel the reality of what took place, the humanity behind the facts, the way those who experienced it, even at a distance but in real time would feel. In a hundred years, the footage will look so dated, that a documentary of this kind will mostly be important to historians and much more difficult to relate. Like people in my generation might have difficulty relating to the horrors of the Battle of Gettysburg during the Civil War if we could hear the personal accounts on a recording.
I think for the time being this serves as a memorial to the people who were there and their families. But to the rest of us, even someone like me who knew the place first hand, I found it less moving than I expected, a distant past. Honestly, I got bored and fast forwarded when the accounts felt repetitive, felt a little guilty, but there it is. I saw footage of the new One World Trade Center and was glad it looks so different on the ground floor though I think what looks spacious is a nightmare for anyone having to commute to work and walk all that distance on a daily basis.
My low rating is that it is a small memorial of the few who were involved and the scope is very narrow and repetitive. I'm sure some people made phone calls and survived but there are no interviews with them so this is just those who died which feels kind of skewed and overtly made to tug on heartstrings. The intensity of the emotions are subjective so I can only say, I feared watching it would be traumatizing and found it less so perhaps because I'm an outsider afterall to what took place. There is no strong conclusion to tie the stories together nor putting it in context with some kind of cohesive conclusion useful to the present. It's definitely an emotional gut wrenching account but maybe its the aftermath of the pandemic where hundreds of thousands died (including in New York City), where so many died alone isolated from their loved ones, some horrifically as well, and still dying, and the new heroes are the healthcare workers and other essential workers - so in that context the emotional impact of 9/11 seems to be receding more and more into the past. Maybe I've just gotten cynical and notice when the content is merely to play to the emotions for viewer counts.