Movie Review: Man in Red Bandana

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I’ve talked about my history in blogging a time or two around here before, and how I did this little experiment where I pretended to myself that I had a blog, and wrote a metric assload of content about movies. None of those ever saw the light of day, and I don’t think I even still have them anymore.

I guess I was onto something. I just didn’t know it until today.

Let’s kick off our new series, At the Movies, with our first movie review: Man in Red Bandana. [EDIT 12-1-2021: The original link wasn’t working. However, I’ve updated this to link directly to the movie website’s blog. EDIT 12-4-2021: The updated link isn’t working either. I’m linking to the Wikipedia article on the movie instead.] Before I go any further, I need to take this opportunity to mention that this movie talks about what happened on 9/11. While the filmmakers didn’t include anything extreme in the final cut, there is mention of it, and footage from that day. If this is something you need to take into consideration, definitely give this post a miss. No hard feelings if you need to skip today’s post. We’ll kick it together again some other time!

Anyways, this came out in 2017. However, there were talks about it for several years beforehand. It was something I looked forward to seeing, and saw that there were screenings for it in select areas.

None of them made it to my neck of the woods, sad to say. That meant I had to wait until it came out on DVD or the streaming services, whichever came first.

My wait’s now officially over.

After a little snafu with Kanopy and my library card, sorted, I found Man in Red Bandana. Since I still had some credits left over for the month, I picked that one. I also read the book when it came out, and understandably there were some details in the book left out of the film for brevity’s sake.

Gwyneth Paltrow narrates the film. At first I was a bit skeptical, but after seeing it, I think she did a great job.

We start off with the story of Welles Crowther, where his mom Allison talks about how he got a little ride-on fire truck when he was 3, and the picture of him with it.

We then see him grow up and go through his school years, including how he was on the high school hockey team with the #19 jersey, and how he wanted to become a firefighter like his dad.

He joins as a junior firefighter, and when he turns 16, he starts formal training.

We see Welles go through college, and into a job at what used to be Sandler O’Neill as an equities trader. This officially became his day job on September 11th, 2001.

We just didn’t know it until after the fact, when his mom Alison found reference from two survivors from the South Tower about some guy with a red bandana on his face, rescuing people from the one intact stairwell from the 77th floor on up.

There was no possible way they were making this up, no way. Alison reaches out to them, and they confirm that this was indeed Welles who saved their lives.

We even find out that one of the people Welles rescued was Ron DiFrancesco! I remember seeing him in another documentary, along with Stanley Praimnath from shortly after 9/11.

I had no idea Welles rescued him.

Stanley Praimnath describes how planes flying by wasn’t anything out of the ordinary in the upper levels of the towers. He then describes how the plane flying directly into the building was.

From the way Stanley described it, taking us viewers on a journey through time to that day with him, it felt like I was there at Euro Brokers with him that day.

It’s so chilling, and heartbreaking at the same time to see the lasting impact all this had on Ron, interviewed for this shortly after Stanley’s segment.

Like, I could feel the pain and the trauma from Ron’s segment, every bit as palpable as it was in the documentary he was in years ago.

I thought about both Stanley and Ron recently. I wonder how they’re both holding up these days.

Then we start delving into the impact Welles made on so many people, how he rescued those people when he didn’t know them from Adam or Eve, and we see him posthumously bestowed with the title “Honorary Firefighter.”

The first designation as such in the FDNY history, according to the FDNY commissioner interviewed.

At first, I was kinda bummed that the documentary focused so little on him in life, but now I see that it makes sense. Welles’ life was cut so short from an act of senseless, needless violence, along with so many others that day.

The brief segment dedicated to his life in comparison to the focus on the impact he made on the people he rescued, their families, and everyone who’s learned about him since then reflects the legacy he left behind.

“The measure of a man is not his longevity, but whether he made a positive difference during his lifetime.” To me, this quote perfectly captures the overall theme of this documentary.

After we ‘meet’ Welles’ namesakes, both boys and girls, and see the memorials and events honoring him, we end with Welles’ final phone call.

So powerful.

Over to you, readers. Yay or nay on this new series? Have you seen Man in Red Bandana? If not, got any plans to see it? I’d love to hear your thoughts and takeaways, so drop ’em like they’re hot below, and let’s talk.


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