Man in Red Bandana

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Man in Red Bandana Movie Poster Image
Imperfect 9/11 documentary tells a truly inspiring story.
  • PG-13
  • 2017
  • 76 minutes

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Kids say

age 13+
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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Celebrates the kind of courage and heroism that only spring up at the most extreme and unexpected moments.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Though the movie doesn't portray the heroic Welles Remy Crowther in a fully rounded way -- we know nothing of his flaws, fears, loves, losses, or doubts -- his extraordinary accomplishments and courage speak for themselves.


Real-life news footage of the 9/11 attacks. Photos of injured people. Bloody wounds. Crowther doesn't make it out of the building.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Man in Red Bandana is a documentary about Welles Remy Crowther, an equities trader who worked in the World Trade Center and saved at least 10, and possibly up to 18, people after the 9/11 attacks. The film is free of iffy language, sexual content, commercialism, and smoking, drinking, or drugs, but the real-life news footage of the attacks is heart-stopping and upsetting (as is Crowther's fate), and there are photos of injured, bloody survivors. While it's not polished and doesn't show or admit to any of Crowther's faults, when you meet the people who wouldn't be here today if not for him, it's impossible not to be moved. This is truly a great story, and that overcomes the imperfect presentation.

User Reviews

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Teen, 17 years old Written byHululuOhana September 14, 2017

A helping hand

This film is pretty much recommended to Teenagers that are learning about this, and since i am a History student we are currently learning this right now and it... Continue reading

What's the story?

MAN IN RED BANDANA is a documentary about the life of Welles Remy Crowther. His parents, friends, and family members talk about his childhood in Nyack, New York, especially his favorite fire engine toy and his eventual love of sports (hockey and lacrosse). As a kid, his father gave him a red handkerchief that he always carried. After graduating college, Crowther landed a job as an equities trader in the South Tower of the World Trade Center. During the 9/11 attacks, he discovered an undamaged staircase, and, wearing his red bandana over his face, kept running back up the stairs to show more and more people the way down. He himself eventually disappeared in the rubble (his body wasn't discovered until months later), but it's estimated that he saved at least 10, and possibly up to 18, people. His legacy is now remembered and celebrated, and he's even been made an honorary New York City firefighter.

Is it any good?

Though Matthew J. Weiss' documentary looks and sounds pretty low-budget, is simplistic in structure, and struggles to fill out its 76 minutes, it's blessed with an amazingly powerful, moving story. The tale is told via clips of news footage interspersed with interviews, all accompanied by Gwyneth Paltrow's narration.

You may notice that the sound is uneven (sudden increases in volume are startling) and that the composition of the interviews is largely artless. In truth, Man in Red Bandana isn't a particularly polished movie. Plus, it presents Welles almost as a saint; no one says anything but good things about him. As a person who actually lived, he's still a mystery -- but as a hero, he's most inspiring. Diagrams of his progress within the tower help to underline his feats, and seeing footage of the people he saved, and of his mother and President Obama, makes you realize the impact he actually had. By the movie's end, there will be both tears and applause. (Watch the credits to hear a new song by Lyle Lovett.)

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Man in Red Bandana's violent moments. How much is shown? Does it seem necessary? Is it glorified? How does it compare to what you might see in a fictionalized movie?

  • How does the film show the importance of courage? Why is that an important character strength?

  • Is Crowther a role model? Does the movie show his flaws and his humanity, as well as his courage? Is that necessary?

  • What happened on 9/11, and how did it change the United States as a country?

  • How does this documentary compare to other films you may have seen about 9/11? Did it add any information? Did it contradict any information?

Movie details

  • In theaters: September 8, 2017
  • On DVD or streaming: September 8, 2017
  • Cast: Gwyneth Paltrow
  • Director: Matthew J. Weiss
  • Studio: Verdi Productions
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Topics: History
  • Character strengths: Courage
  • Run time: 76 minutes
  • MPAA rating: PG-13
  • MPAA explanation: thematic material involving disaster-related images and descriptions
  • Last updated: September 20, 2019

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