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PBS Home Video presents
Hijacked (2006)

"This was America's introduction to global terrorism."
- newsman Marvin Kalb

Review By: Jon Danziger   
Published: March 02, 2006

Director: Ilan Ziv

MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 00h:55m:27s
Release Date: February 28, 2006
UPC: 841887050500
Genre: documentary

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B- B-B-B- D-

DVD Review

The specter of terrorism seems to haunt just about every aspect of public life these days, but it's a mistake to insist that with the attacks of September 11, everything changed, especially if you live in the Middle East. This brief documentary provides a cogent look at the events of September 1970, when the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) took over four commercial flights bound from Europe for the U.S., diverting them instead to the Jordanian desert, in an effort to achieve their political ends by any means necessary. It's impossible not to look at these events now through anything other than the prism of 9/11; that had to have been the impetus for the production of this film, which tells its story ably, though not without its share of sensationalism.

The filmmakers interview a number of the participants in the hijackings—pilots, flight attendants, passengers, even some of the hijackers themselves—on airplanes, and what strikes me as the overwhelmingly bad taste of this choice is undercut only modestly by the occasional demonstration of what they saw or heard or did on those days. Much more interesting is news footage from the time, these enormous jets seemingly splayed at random in the desert, the PFLP broadcasting their demands for the release of Palestinian prisoners. And most telling of all are the approaches taken by the nations of the world in dealing with the hijackers—Israel alone refused to negotiate with them, making them the early adopters of the policy now adhered to (in theory, anyway) by the United States. Given the times and their predilections, President Richard Nixon and his Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, could look at these circumstances only as chess moves in the Cold War, wondering how U.S. policy would be countered by the Soviets.

There are of course some lessons for our time—an El Al flight foiled a hijacking by booting two PFLP members off a flight because their passports were suspicious and consecutively numbered. They turned around and bought two more tickets on another airline and hijacked that plane instead. Also, at one point, the hijackers separated out the Jewish passengers from the others—most of the passengers were American—casting doubt on the PFLP's assertions that its goals and its outlook were not in fact anti-Semitic. (The issues aren't simply Muslim versus Jew, either, as the PFLP leadership knocks heads with King Hussein of Jordan.) Campbell Scott provides the narration; it's a serviceable effort all around.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.66:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Adequate transfer, though generally more grainy than it ought to be.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: Generally clean, with a fair amount of static on the archival clips.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 9 cues and remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Only chapter stops.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

A brief overview of the events of September 1970, with an opportunity to reflect on the similarities between international affairs then and now.


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