Review: ‘Inside the President’s War Room’ ranks must-watch 9/11 documentary

Powerful, emotional, an exceptional remembrance

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Caleb Audia

BBC’s “Inside the President’s War Room” ranks as a must-watch 9/11 documentary, and will be available for free streaming Saturday, Sept. 11. Currently, the film is available on AppleTV and BBC One with a valid membership. “Overall, I had high expectations diving into the documentary,” senior Caleb Audia said. “And every single one of them was met and excelled.”

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Powerful, emotional and an exceptional remembrance are words that best describe BBC’s latest 9/11 documentary, “Inside the President’s War Room.” Different from the majority of other 9/11 documentaries, BBC’s latest film pivots the focal point of viewers away from the tragedy on the ground to the event through President George Bush and his administration’s eyes.

Available to watch and stream on Apple TV+ and BBC Once since Wednesday, Sept. 1, “Inside the President’s War Room” has received high ratings from many reviewers. AppleTV also announced that they will allow the documentary to be streamed for free on Saturday, Sept. 11.

The setting takes place in a variety of locations that Bush and his administration traveled during the 9/11 attacks. These places include the elementary school in Florida where Bush first heard of the two attacks, the actions taken and frustrations found onboard Air Force One and on a variety of mid-west Air Force bases, the preparations included in addressing the nation and getting back to Washington D.C. after security precautions, and, finally, continuing forward after the tragedy.

The first plane was an accident, the second one was an attack and the third was a declaration of war.”

— President Bush

While the documentary still showed the somber moments of the planes that hit the World Trade Center, Pentagon and the devastation that occurred as a result, more of a strategic approach stayed consistent throughout the film. The actions taken by Bush and his administration are laid out and told neatly through the use of graphics and clocks. Each minute, half hour or hour was typically accounted for in moments of high energy, and it kept me captivated and informed of the process that the Bush administration went through, one after the other.

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“The first plane was an accident. The second one was an attack, and the third was a declaration of war,” Bush was quoted during the first half-hour of the documentary. This quote perfectly describes his order of action in dealing with the attacks that unfolded.

One thing that deserves a mention, as well, is the quality of content that’s shown throughout the film. From the first to the last minute, the storyline stays intriguing, with the use of videos and photos that I’ve never seen.

To be honest, I probably cried about six or seven times throughout the whole one-hour-and-28minute film. The raw audio really sets it apart, especially at moments during the attacks where you can hear people screaming and crying in the background. The phone calls of the passengers aboard the planes added a great emotional aspect to the film, and it shapes viewers’ perspective of what people, including some of the Bush Administration’s staff members, had to hear from their loved ones.

The ending remarks by Bush deserve recognition, as well. Addressing an issue that’s becoming more prominent, the documentary does a phenomenal job of bringing back awareness to the national attacks with unseen coverage.

“It took 20 years for the day to become meaningless to a lot of people, and yet, to the people who went through it, it’s not,” Bush said. “It is not a meaningless day.”

Overall, I had high expectations, diving into the documentary, and every single one of them was met and excelled. Pushing political agendas, commentary and bias aside, “Inside the President’s War Room” earns its spot as a must-watch, especially with the unfortunately growing lack of education about the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.


The featured image is a digitally constructed image by Caleb Audia with copyright free photos, courtesy of Canva.com