The opening of 7/7: One Day in London suggests a few reasons why so many people flock to London each year. For one of the documentary’s participants, our nation’s capital is a place where you can lose your identity and be anybody you want to. For another, it’s a symbol of cultural diversity: a whole world gathered in one city, one with a rich and historical heritage.
All of the people featured here were affected by the London bombings, but the documentary doesn’t open in the mournful way that you’d expect it to. First we’re introduced to the people who were involved and learn why they were in London on 7th July 2005 — the day after the city won the Olympic bid — and how they ended up taking the journey that changed their lives so profoundly.
One of the victims, Kathy, tells the camera that she decided to go into work half an hour earlier that day and wonders how things could have so easily been very different. Another lady, who was on the same train, says that she caught the train because she couldn’t be bothered to run for the earlier one.
The participants are tremendously brave when speaking about their experiences. One man, Tim, recalls how he tried to help a man who had been propelled so forcefully into his chair that his body had been separated at the waist into two parts. There’s also a woman named Martine, who very calmly explains how it felt to lose her legs in the blast and remembers seeing her bloodied trainer lying amid the wreckage.
We also hear from victims families, amongst them the mother and father of a young man named David, who was one of 52 fatalities that day. They look through photo albums and give viewers an idea of what kind of person he was, explaining how proud they were of their 22-year-old son for starting his professional life in London.
It’s incredibly moving, but the documentary doesn’t set out to shock or upset; it simply tells the stories of the people who were victims of the attacks. This, we’re told by one of the survivors, is the story of how tragedy brought together a group of strangers and how these horrific events helped unite Londoners.
7/7: One Day in London is respectful and far more positive and informative than you might have imagined, becoming less about catastrophe and much more about the bravery of city that was attacked.