Four Hours at the Capitol

January 6, 2021, was the day one of the most terrifying events occurred: the storming of the Capitol. This happened after former president Donald J. Trump asserted that the 2020 election was “stolen by emboldened radical-left Democrats” and called for his supporters to come to Washington D.C. However, no one would have thought that this would go so far. The riot turned disastrous within hours and led to five people dying in the attack. 

On October 8, a trailer for a documentary, Four Hours at the Capitol, directed by Jamie Roberts, was released and told the events of what occurred on that tragic day. I remember coming across the trailer coincidently, and the moment I watched it, I was immediately interested in viewing it since I wanted to learn more about the event itself.

This documentary shows two sides to what happened: the rioters’ beliefs and the officers and state representatives. Watching how these two sides explain what happened leaves you feeling a bit sick and heartbroken. News stories only show what happened outside of the attack, but you get to see video footage of how everything played out in detail. The documentary only provides the facts and lets each side tell the specifics without being biased. I enjoyed this aspect because I finally understood the motives of those involved that day. The way the film was set up brought the story to life, made it feel like you were there, and made the experience not as dull as most documentaries.

The rioters were the leading group telling their side, and it was fascinating to see how they processed their actions. I was, of course, enraged every time they explained how happy they were with what they had just done. They were overjoyed and celebrating as if it was Christmas. However, even if it angered me to the point of pausing the documentary and taking a breather, it was pretty interesting to see how driven they were throughout the invasion. They believed that they were showing patriotism and that they were defending democracy. One scene that I found somewhat ironic was when the police officers stopped the rioters from entering the Senate Room. The rioters said they would protest peacefully after literally breaking through hundreds of officers, attacking them, smashing open the Capitol, and destroying items near them. Yeah, I think the option of being peaceful was out the window at that point.

For those who worked a position within the Capitol or went as a representative, it was heart-wrenching to hear their story, especially the senior staff assistant to Nancy Pelosi, Leah Han. Every time Leah Han detailed her experience, it shattered my heart. Just imagine being in that situation, trapped, thinking, today you will die. That would be a horrific experience, and just hearing how she felt in that moment compared to the rioters should make anyone feel sick to their stomach. Many of the representatives in the documentary mentioned that they called their families to say goodbye while noting how it was similar to the phone calls on 9/11. I bawled my eyes out hearing these statements since it is so hard to imagine saying goodbye to a loved one during a dangerous situation.

Finally, the documentary turned to the side of the police officers working that day. It was tough to watch since there was so much brutality. One such horrific moment was when officer Michael Fanone was dragged away from the other officers and was mercilessly beaten up until he began shouting that he had kids and pleading for his life. The officers struggled with their options of opening fire on a crowded mass of people to protect the Capitol and their fellow officers or fighting hand-to-hand to keep the crowd from breaching the building. 

This documentary was very informational. I highly recommend watching it since the cinematography is well done and hits you in the feels. However, this is not for those who cannot handle the sight of blood or violence in general. If you are sensitive, I would not recommend watching the documentary.