• Post category:Movies
  • Post last modified:January 29, 2021

Fahrenheit 9/11: The Era of Bush


fahrenheit911He’s been called a lying, fat moron who hates America. His movies trigger websites claiming to unravel the lies he’s purportedly manufacturing. But Michael Moore does not hate America. Call it a documentary or a propaganda piece, or whatever, but what Fahrenheit 9/11 does is showing the big guy fighting for the future of his country.

Preaching to the choir
Bowling for Columbine
(2002) unleashed a Michael Moore that was funny and very much in-your-face. This time he settles for narrating the film and only appears in a few brief sequences where he manages to control himself. The bit where he’s trying to persuade congressmen to send their children to fight in Iraq, however, is vintage Moore. That’s a typical example of the kind of humor that runs through the movie. It’s the right approach when you want to make a film that will hopefully make voters think twice about which candidate to support. Displaying a bitterly resentful attitude toward the guy you desperately want losing the election is a sure way to turn everyone off.

The thing about Fahrenheit 9/11 though is that there’s a lot of people who will indeed resent it, who will be turned off. Had he tried to keep his reasoning somewhere near “fair and balanced”, it is quite possible that Moore would have had a greater impact on moviegoers. As it is now, he’s preaching to the choir and not attracting enough non-believers. Some would say a different approach would be too naively middle-of-the-road. In any case, the movie has flaws. At times it appears to have been assembled in a rush; there are occasions when we are not informed on who the interview subject is. The director’s approach is also a bit too simplistic. There’s a notorious shot of an Iraqi boy happily flying his kite prior to the American invasion; this is a sequence that comes close to implying that life in Iraq was better under Saddam Hussein.

Beginning like a fairy tale
But the filmmaker’s command of his medium overshadows those flaws. The movie begins like a fairy tale, with the chaotic aftermath of the presidential election in 2000 and continues with a main title sequence where members of the Bush administration are made up before the TV cameras, perhaps suggesting that those people cannot be real, only products created by some evil, right-wing mind who’s still writing the fairy tale we all live in.

Plenty of red meat is thrown to the left-wing part of the audience, with clips of Bush relaxing in Crawford, Texas, and Attorney General John Ashcroft trying to show he can carry a tune. But there’s also compassion in the way Moore portrays U.S. soldiers in Iraq; he won’t let us forget how the war affects innocent civilians as well as those young men and women who are sent to a foreign land to fight an unjust war. There are plenty of working-class families in the director’s hometown of Flint, Michigan who will never see their children again – their grief is painful to watch and Moore is sophisticated enough to know how to handle difficult material like this in a proper way.

No one escapes Michael Moore. He wasn’t afraid to criticize President Clinton when he made poor decisions. He isn’t afraid to go after Democrats who won’t offer a real alternative to President Bush’s aggressively conservative agenda. Moore cares about the future of America and Fahrenheit 9/11 is sufficient proof of that. 

Fahrenheit 9/11 2004-U.S. 122 min. Color. Produced by Michael Moore, Jim Czarnecki, Kathleen Glynn. Written and directed by Michael Moore.

Cannes: Palme d’Or. Razzie: Worst Actor (George W. Bush), Supporting Actor (Donald Rumsfeld), Supporting Actress (Britney Spears), Screen Couple (Mr. Bush and Condoleezza Rice or His Pet Goat).

Last word: “This is a movie about the four years of Bush. It begins with the first act of immorality; the reason it begins there is that it all rots from there. If you allow someone to steal your White House, to steal an election, what else will these people do? Thus begins the decline from that moment in Florida to the lie after lie after lie to manipulate the people, all for their own gain and their own friends’ gain.” (Moore, Indiewire)



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