Saturday Morning Documentary: One Day in September

6 06 2011

I said I would post a SMD movie so here it is!

Saw this one a while back so it’s not super fresh in my memory, but One Day in September is an Oscar-winning documentary about the Palestinian attack on athletes at the Olympic Games in Munich in 1972.  I can’t remember if there was a history lesson included in the film or if they just launched right into it but I learned the background of why it happened during my history class this past semester.  The Middle East is super f-ed up, to say the least.  The Palestinians, who had been living in the area we now call Israel.  After a whole bunch of events including the fleeing from the Nazis in WWII, Jews who had been living in Europe were displaced and a significant population returned to the Middle East, where they are now known as Israelis.  But the Palestinians didn’t really like this big influx of people who were now taking over what they considered to be their land (and the Jews thinking the same too) so then all this conflict and killing and crap happened between the two groups up until present day.  In a nutshell.

The documentary, narrated by Michael Douglas, tells the story of the now infamous terrorist attack in the athlete’s village in 1972 during the Olympics in response to what was happening during the Middle East.  The film is captivating, intense, and harrowing, as we see the events unfolding.  There are some really disturbing things that happen (complemented by some photos) and when the situation moves over to a small airport and helicopters are all involved… wow.  It’s so dramatic it seems like the plot to a movie (though Munich dealth with the terrorists after Black September). And despite all of this, there’s still a sense of humanity in the film — both positive and dark.

Fantastic film.

Saturday Morning Documentary: BBC’s Natural World: The Monkey-Eating Eagle of the Orinoco

16 01 2011

With the strings of success the BBC had with Planet Earth and Life, I guess it was only natural (pun intended) that they produce more series on wildlife.  The first episode of Natural World was last year about the Himalayas, which was actually pretty interesting.  It was narrated by David Attenborough, the same guy who narrated both Life and Planet Earth and I assumed he was narrating Natural World as well.

Don’t be mislead by the awesome title of this one.  Yes, there is such a thing as a monkey-eating bird but there is no actual footage of any killing of its prey. Instead, the hour-long episode follows a baby Harpy eagle living in the jungles of South America as it grows up.  There is footage of the parents bringing back dead Capuchin monkeys to give to its young but nope, no wild goring, attacking struggle between bird and monkey.  How disappointing.

Also disappointing is the fact that Attenborough doesn’t narrate this one.  It’s done by one of the filmmakers/scientists who follows the chick and studies it,  and although he’s a decent narrator, he does kind of get borderline neurotic (“There’s rain!  But what about the chick?  Is it alive?????”).

There doesn’t seem to be much conflict/difficulty for the baby Harpy eagle to grow up.  At one point, the father doesn’t return for a few days and both the mother, who has been staying in the nest with the chick, get hungry.  But then he comes back.  All is good.  More exciting is when the team rapels up the tree to install a camera of the nest — since their view from outside the tree isn’t that great — and the birds attack the crew members.  That’s really the most attacking there is in the episode.  (SPOILER ALERT!  The crew was fine.  No one died, though that would’ve made for some good TV).

Altogether, I found myself more interested in the toucans that lived next door than the Harpies.  Maybe they were just prettier to look at.  Hmm.  Maybe I’m shallow like that.  Anyway, the Harpies, a species I knew nothing about before I saw this, seem vaguely interesting.  That’s about all I got to say.

Next time, put in some monkey-eagle action and you’ll get this viewer, and I’m sure many more, interested.


Harpy eagle in flight

Saturday Morning Documentary: e2

29 08 2010

At the same time as An Inconvenient Truth and before being environmentally conscious/green was considered cool, PBS had a series called e2: The Economies of Being Environmentally Conscious (also known as simply e2).  I’ve only seen the first six episodes of season 2 — I wasn’t aware there was more than one season nor that there were more than six episodes — and so far, it’s been interesting.  It’s presented in high-def, which is always a good touch, and the interviews from policitians especially is intriguing, as we (or at least I) rarely hear people in politics talk about their goals regarding how to be more green.  The episodes I saw range from topics like investigating wind energy in “Harvesting the Wind”, the rise of electric vehicles in “Paving the Way” (I think it was this episode), and the pros and cons of nuclear and coal energy in the final episode.  Narrated by Morgan Freeman, e2 though dry at times, is still moderately engaging.  And anyway, it’s only 25 minutes per episode so even if you fall asleep, you won’t miss that much.

PBS e2

PBS e2