Rating: Not Rated
John Vigiano, Sr.
John Vigiano, Jr.
Dolby Digital 2.0 Sound
Spanish and French Subtitles
Running Time: 35 Minutes
This film was originally released in 2003. Here’s the text from the DVD cover:
“When Dick Wolf, producer of the NBC series Law & Order, began filming a reality-TV pilot about a New York City police squad, no one could have known that terrorists would claim the lives of fourteen of the men in that unit on September 11, 2001.
Joseph Vigiano, a highly decorated member of the NYPD Emergency Services Squad 3, died in the World Trade Center, along with his older brother, John, Jr., a firefighter with Bedford-Stuyvesant’s Ladder 132. They both rushed to the scene as soon as the first building was struck and were still helping people evacuate when the towers collapsed.
The footage that had been shot for Wolf’s pilot is the basis for this Academy Award-winning documentary. Twin Towers follows Joe’s Harlem-based rescue team as they go on raids and investigate homicides, and includes interviews with their families, news footage and home videos to tell a story of dedication, heroism and the American spirit that defines us, as a people and a nation.”
Twin Towers is not rated but it contains graphic scenes of blood and violence.
Shortly after the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001, you may remember that it came to light that only one camera caught the first plane hitting the World Trade Center. A documentary crew happened to be filming emergency crews at the time and pointed their cameras in the right direction as it hit. This is the documentary that was being filmed at the time.
Twin Towers starts out a lot like COPS. It follows a special unit of New York Police officers around the city carrying out their duties. This group seems to do everything. They serve warrants, act as a SWAT team, conduct rescues, and more. They are like the Swiss Army knife of the NY police. The documentary focuses on Joseph Vigiano. You meet his father, a veteran cop. You see him at work, being awarded by the city, and more. You also hear the typical talk about how his life is always on the line and he never knows if he’ll be coming home that day.
However, all the talk becomes eerily prophetic when the terrorist attacks hit. Halfway through the film this typical COPS episode takes a dramatic turn and you are instantly transported back to the horror of 9/11. You see graphic footage of the attacks, including that one-of-a-kind footage of the first strike. You see the people trapped in the building, the rescue attempts, and the eventual fall of the towers. As all this goes on you realize that the guy you spent the first half of the documentary getting to know was in the middle of it all. At this point they show that Joe’s brother John Jr. was a firefighter and was also killed in the attack.
The dramatic footage is then followed up by Joe’s friends and family expressing their thoughts at his life and passing. It’s in stark contrast to the lighthearted mood of the first half of the film. They even show Rudi Guliani’s speech at Joe’s funeral.
The film is a dramatic and personal look at the 9/11 attacks. It puts a face on the police that died there. This documentary also has historical significance since it contains that rare footage of the first attack. About the only thing it lacks is more info on Joe’s brother the firefighter. He’s mentioned here and there on the side but no real time is devoted to him. The film is called “Twin Towers” after the two brothers, so I thought they would emphasize it more than they did. In any case, it is still an excellent documentary and well worth checking out. You may also want to note that it won the Oscar for Best Documentary Short in 2003.
There are no bonus features included on this DVD.
The Bottom Line:
If you are looking for a documentary that is moving, historical, and a fitting tribute to the New York Police Department, then Twin Towers is a DVD you’ll want to check out.