9/11: The Falling Man

Watch 9/11: The Falling Man

  • PG-13
  • 2006
  • 1 hr 20 min
  • 7.2  (2,096)

On September 11th, 2001, the world was irrevocably changed. The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City claimed the lives of 2,606 people. Among the hundreds of thousands of people impacted by that tragedy, there is one moment that remains seared into the collective memory of the world: the moment that the "Falling Man" jumped from the North Tower.

The 2006 documentary 9/11: The Falling Man takes a deep dive into one of the most iconic images from that day. As the documentary shows, Richard Drew's photograph of the Falling Man became an instant sensation. The photograph, which shows a man plummeting headfirst toward the ground, caused a firestorm of controversy and debate.

On the one hand, some people felt that the photo was a violation of the man's dignity and that it should never have been taken or published. On the other hand, others felt that the photo illuminated the tragedy in a way that words alone could not, and that it was an important historical record of the events of that day.

Regardless of where you stand on this issue, one thing remains clear: the events of September 11th continue to reverberate through our culture in countless ways. The Falling Man is an important symbol of that impact, and this documentary explores that symbolism with care and sensitivity.

One of the most powerful aspects of the documentary is how it personalizes this moment in history. Rather than simply discussing the photo in a detached, academic way, the filmmakers use interviews with family members and witnesses to give the Falling Man an identity. We learn that the man in the photo was likely Jonathan Briley, a 43-year-old employee of Windows on the World, a restaurant located on the 107th floor of the North Tower.

By putting a name and a story to the Falling Man, the documentary forces us to confront the reality of what happened on that day. We see not just an image, but a person: a person who, like so many others, was a victim of senseless violence.

Another strength of the documentary is how it explores the meaning of the image itself. As the filmmakers note, the photo of the Falling Man embodies a lot of the debates and questions that continue to swirl around September 11th. For example, some people see the image as heroic: a symbol of courage in the face of unimaginable horror. Others see the image as tragic: a symbol of the overwhelming desperation that people must have felt as they faced the impossible choice of how to die.

As the documentary notes, there is no easy answer to what the image means. It is a Rorschach test of sorts, a reflection of our own values and beliefs.

The documentary also takes the time to explore some of the conspiracy theories that have sprung up around the Falling Man. For example, some people believe that the photo was staged or doctored in some way. Others believe that the Falling Man was actually an angel or a ghost.

While these theories might seem far-fetched, the documentary takes them seriously and explores them with care. By doing so, the filmmakers give us a fuller picture of how people have tried to understand and come to grips with the tragedy of September 11th.

All of these elements come together to create a documentary that is moving, thought-provoking, and deeply human. 9/11: The Falling Man offers a unique perspective on one of the most iconic images in recent memory, and it reminds us that even in the midst of tragedy, there is still dignity, beauty, and hope to be found.

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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 20 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.2  (2,096)