In Review

Four Hours at the Capitol review: inside the insurrection

Watching this ‘excellent’ BBC documentary is like being dropped into the unhinged mob

The storming of the Capitol in Washington by Donald Trump’s supporters seemed surreal enough when it happened in January, said Carol Midgley in The Times. But as this “excellent” new BBC documentary makes clear, what we saw on TV “barely scratched the surface”. 

Watching the 90-minute film is like being dropped into the throng, and immersed with an unhinged mob “high on mutiny and self-righteousness”. You see their “gurning, malevolent faces”; you feel the “terrible crush” as the crowd is pushed and heaved into the building. You witness the horror and fear of the police officers; one is rammed, unable to breathe, against a door, another is reeling after being Tasered in the head. 

Yet despite the bleakness of it all, there are moments of levity in the film. One arrested rioter is not happy about his cell: “I’m a firm believer in capital punishment and hard labour,” he says, “but to lock someone in a cell for nine days and not even let them take a shower? That’s un-American and inhumane.” 

On the day, we saw the protesters’ anger, said Anita Singh in The Daily Telegraph. Interviewed here, they come across as “calm, smug and deluded”; and they damn themselves with their words.  

The film also includes interviews with many of the police who tried to hold back the mob, said Lucy Mangan in The Guardian. One officer died on the day; since January, four more officers who served that day have taken their own lives. From the outside, “perhaps it didn’t look that bad”. This film shows “it was that bad, and worse”.

Watch on BBC iPlayer

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