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Rebirth
DVD disk
4 years ago By: Stephanie Cooke
Rebirth order
Director:
James Whitaker

Actors:


Rating:
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Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
The inspirational story of REBIRTH follows the nearly ten-year transformation of five people whose lives were forever altered on September 11, 2001 and simultaneously tracks via unprecedented multi-camera time-lapse photography the minute-by-minute evolution of the space where the Twin Towers once rose.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Most of us can remember exactly where we were on September 11. As a Canadian, the thing that I remember the most about September 11 was it being a day like any other day. I was in Grade 10 at the time and I was in my class, listening to my teacher go on and on about this and that, just waiting for the bell to go off so we could leave class. I remember another teacher coming to the class and telling us that an attack had just taken place and I remember the colour draining from people’s faces around me. Panic took a few students who had parents and relatives who were flying at the time and seeing as we had no information right away on the hijacked planes, everyone prayed for the safety of their loved ones. I can’t even begin to imagine the terror and anxiety that the people of New York faced on that fateful day in 2001.

I hadn’t heard of REBIRTH until it showed up on my doorstep. As far as documentaries go, I’m honestly pretty neglectful of the ones already in my catalogue. I really enjoy them once I get into them, but it takes me a while to have a day where I feel like watching a documentary. As someone who didn’t have any emotional stakes in 9/11 (I fortunately didn’t have any friends or loved ones in NY at the time or on a plane or anything), most of what I hear and see is only taken in as tragic news.

Watching REBIRTH was like being close friends with someone who lost a loved one in 9/11. As an individual who didn’t experience a friend or family member mourning during the time, I could start to understand what those people were going through from this film. REBIRTH follows the lives of five people who were affected by the attack over the course of almost ten years. The interviewees are diverse and we hear from Ling, a Chinese immigrant who was working high in one of the towers when the attack happened and was left badly burned. There’s Nick who, at 15-year old, loses his mother; Tim, a NYC firefighter who loses his best friend; Brian, a construction worker who loses his brother; and Tanya, who loses the love of her life.

We see people in the film when the tragedy first happens and we see how they evolve over time with this emotional burden. As you can imagine, it’s a very tearful experience as each person talks about what they went through and shares what they were going through. Most find ways to cope with what has happened, while others, like Tanya have trouble moving on and while, in the end she is able to find love again, she never really lets go.
THE EXTRAS
14 cameras, 24 hours – a video about the time-lapse project: Basically the director of photography, Thomas Lappin, goes over the technical aspects of how REBIRTH was created. He talks about the time-lapse equipment that they use, how long they recorded for and the work that went into the project. The whole feature only lasts for about three and a half minutes.

Complete feature length time-lapse edit: James Whitaker and Thomas Lappin over the course of time it took to create the project, shot hundreds of hours worth of time-lapse footage. This feature is a ninety-minute time-lapse video compiling important events that happen where the Twin Towers previously stood. For parts of the feature, there’s absolutely no sound. I guess they opted to not add in music to this portion of the DVD, but occasionally, there’s sound from the various events that take place.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
While the story and the circumstances of the documentary are indeed very tragic and the stories are moving, I don’t feel like first time director, James Whitaker really delivered what he was hoping to. With this type of movie, you know what the director is usually aiming for and it was a really interesting move to see the interviewees transform over the years, the film was overall lacking something. Maybe there should’ve been more footage of the attack, or maybe there should’ve been some more talk about the people who were lost… I don’t know.

I guess in the end, Whitaker was trying to make the film about the survivors, thus the title REBIRTH. I just felt that in the end, the effect of the film would’ve been more powerful if they weren’t so individually focused on just the five people for the entire thing.
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