Review: 'Man In Red Bandana' Proves Again That Not All Heroes Wear Capes

Describing a person as a 'man in a red bandana’ typically conjures up images of a cowboy or a wild teenager, not a man in his early 20s who sacrificed his life to help others in the face of terror. I can safely say I will no longer think of anyone or anything but Welles Remy Crowther when I hear about, or see, a red bandana.

Welles Remy Crowther grew up in Nyack, New York and was a beloved son and brother to two younger sisters. He was a promising athlete and was well liked by everyone. Growing up, Welles’ father Jay was a volunteer fire fighter. As a child, Welles found himself in and around the firehouse constantly. He eventually became a junior fire fighter himself and always had a passion for it. Those years in the firehouse and surrounding himself with firefighters taught Welles incredibly valuable skills and techniques that he would go on to use in the most defining hour of his life. After graduating high school, Welles went on to Boston College where he starred on the lacrosse team for all four years. Welles graduated BC in 1999 and moved to New York City for a job with Sandler O’ Neill as an analyst and then eventually an equities trader. The Sandler O’ Neill office that Welles worked in was located in the Twin Towers. His office on the 104th floor of the South Tower was exactly where Welles was on that fateful morning of September 11, 2001.

The film takes you through what Welles’ family went through after 9/11 and the journey that his mother Allison undertook to piece together his last moments. Although Welles’ body was not recovered for months after the attack, Allison had a feeling, which she described as a motherly instinct, causing her to keep searching for Welles. As Jay did all he could to avoid any coverage or stories of the attack on the Twin Towers, Allison did the opposite and immersed herself in all of the news programs, documentaries, and stories about 9/11 that she could find. She searched tirelessly for something, anything that had to do with her son.

Finally on May 26th, 2002, Allison read an article in the New York Times that interviewed many survivors, including the ones that were on the upper floors of the South Tower and miraculously managed to survive. Many of the survivors stories mentioned a man that seemingly came out of nowhere with a red bandana tied over his nose and mouth to protect himself from the smoke and debris and led them to safety. From a young age, Jay had given Welles a red bandana to keep with him. Jay always carried a blue bandana and his only son, following in his father’s footsteps, always had his red bandana. This was the moment that Allison realized she had found her son, and began piecing together what happened in that final hour of his life. 

Man in Red Bandana is in no way an easy film to watch, but it is an incredibly important one. It is an emotional journey that left me drained by the end, but I could not be happier that I saw the film and was exposed to Welles’ story and heroics. Matthew J. Weiss wrote and directed this 85 minute documentary and managed to combine harrowing real life video and audio clips from 9/11 with interesting interviews and information about Welles. Gwyneth Paltrow narrates the documentary, yet there is so much content within the clips and testimonials that it seems like she barely has a role. Welles’ sacrifice will never be forgotten and his legacy lives strong through charitable trusts and programs, annual 5k races and football games, published children’s stories, and an influx of children being named in his honor from across the country, among others. Welles Remy Crowther is a true hero that made the ultimate sacrifice and only thought of helping others in the most trying of times and the Man in Red Bandana does his story justice.  

Rating: 4 out of 5