To be fair, I should qualify this review by saying that I'm progressive, a political science professor, anti-war, and a Bush opponent. So I was hardly watching this film with an objective eye.That being said (and if you can still trust my review), Michael Moore has done American voters a big service by making this film. It's not without it weaknesses, namely the voice-overs where Moore speculates on Bush's thoughts during those endless blank stares. But for once, Moore has made a film that is woven together with a chronological and thematic logic that ultimately asks one critical question: Is it that the Powers that Be don't understand, or that they simply don't believe in, true democratic principles? While George W. Bush is the primary subject of the film's critiques, the Democrats are not left unscathed. In fact, the first 10 minutes are devoted to a skewering of the Democratically-controlled Senate (including, ironically, former V.P., Senate President, and Presidential contender Al Gore.) Moore's commentary here, as with his past films, revolves around the relationship between money and power, and how that connection degrades democracy and in its most insidious form, leads to the loss of innocent lives. While he holds the Bush family and key administration officials most directly accountable, Moore does not let anyone off the hook. This includes not just the usual suspects (Saudi Arabia), but the Democratic leadership, the Supreme Court, the media, and finally, the American voters. Nothing here is new to anyone who has spent any time perusing the alternative or progressive media in the past four years, but the effect is substantial because Moore has finally shown himself to be a true documentarian, and has woven together a coherent picture of the connections between the players and the events from December 2000 to the present. Setting aside the few moments of Moore's own commentary and some silly interjections of old westerns, the message ultimately relies on the presentation of documents, images, and interviews. The facts are so tight that the worst anyone can say about the veracity of the film is that it is biased, a critique that will carry far less weight when compared to the snippets of Fox news propaganda spliced into the movie.Moore will be called anti-American, unpatriotic, and probably a fascist. This, of course, is the last resort of a regime and its supporters who have no credible challenge to the facts of the film, only to its message. Ultimately, all audiences, regardless of their political proclivities, should be able to see that Moore is anything but anti-American or anti-democratic. The single biggest piece of the film is devoted to following around the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq. She is a patriot and a "true American", by any definition. Her son, and the thousands like him, are honored by Moore. They are portrayed as heroes, but also as victims. They are protectors of American security, but also pawns in a global struggle for power.By finally asking the right questions (4 years too late??), Moore has shown himself to be not just a solid filmmaker, but a patriot and a defender of the most sacred American liberty- free expression.
Yes, Michael Moore has an agenda. However, every documentary does. Believe it or not folks, but a documentary does not just show reality, it also interprets it. Remember the experts that Ken Burns shows in all of his documentaries? He used them to interpret the facts of the Civil War, Jazz, and Baseball, among others. The Ken Burn's agenda just wasn't as controversial as Michael Moore's.The point of a documentary is for those who see it to start making their own judgments. If you don't agree with Michael Moore's interpretation of the why's of the Iraq war, what is the right interpretation? Can you use the facts or find more facts to come up with a different interpretation? I would call that highly unlikely, but I would like to see the interpretation.This documentary set out to answer the question "Why is the US in Iraq?" I can tell you I have asked that question a lot and I found no good reason. Michael Moore has done the same thing, just to a larger audience. While you might disagree with his assessment that it was strictly for money, it is hard to support a different view after seeing this movie. You would be hard pressed to find any evidence linking Iraq and Al-Qaeda. Why? Because it doesn't exist. No matter how much Bush railed for a link, even he had to admit it wasn't there. I guess I would like to see a Republican version of events. I just can't imagine what it would use as evidence. How can you refute the 7 minutes of inactivity of Mr. Bush in the Florida classroom on 9/11? How can you refute the fact that planes were loaded up with Bin Laden relatives on 9/13? How can you call the "coalition of the willing" a coalition if it includes countries that send no troops? These are the facts folks. Michael Moore interpreted them to slam the Bush administration. I was saying the same thing before this movie. However, I reach a small audience since I don't make movies. Thanks to Michael Moore for making this film. Maybe some of the clueless, like Britney Spears, will wake up and start questioning what is going on out there. Because, Ms. Spears, in America, we are allowed to question the president. He isn't God, he is a human being. So, pro-Iraq war people, give me your interpretation. Why? Why are we there? Why don't we have Osama Bin Laden? Why?
"Fahrenheit 9/11" is an important film, dealing in detail with the great issues of current American society, with a degree of skepticism that our newsmedia has proven entirely incapable of exhibiting in the last decade. Lone gadfly Michael Moore cannot singlehandedly reverse the effects of a servile corporate media, but he can -- and does -- fling it right back in their faces. Is it any wonder televised interviews with Moore have been less-than-cordial of late? It doesn't matter. For a film like this, any publicity is beneficial, and Michael Moore has gone out of his way to thank his conservative detractors for their support. As a movie, it's a whirlwind tour of corruption and diplomatic deceit at the highest levels of the industrial-political machine, mixed with direct examination of the lives of the "ordinary" people affected by the decisions of the aristocratic few. Much like a roller-coaster ride, it pulls you up the first steep incline with images of the 2000 presidential election followed by the major players in the bush administration getting ready for their performances, and then comes the first plunge: a stomach-wrenching drop into the black screen, with only the sounds of that awful day in September when "everything changed". Fade back in on the people of New York, confused, hurting, seeking their loved ones in the rubble. From here on, there is no stopping for breath. We observe the flight of Saudi aristocrats who, but for their political connections, might have been held as material witnesses. Moore depicts vividly the links between the Bush family and their Saudi friends, one of whom (Prince Bandar) "earns" the Bush surname. On it goes, fact after fact after irrefutable and disgusting fact. Many of us entered the theatre thinking we knew the score, but seldom has an overview of each tree led to such a complete vision of the forest. Along the way, we'll see behavior from members of the bush administration that cannot be described as flattering -- but once again, this isn't up for debate. It's the facts, it's what they themselves said. You can argue context, but the footage speaks for itself. And more than anything else, this is where Michael Moore proves he's grown as a director. No longer are his films chock-full of his narrative, he lets the evildoers hoist themselves on their own petards without as much overdubbed commentary. His statement rests in the overall structure of the film, rather than his usual assortment of shame-defying pecadillos and exposes. Which is not to say that fans of his spirited antics won't have something to watch, as he drives around the capital building in an ice cream truck reading the Patriot act to the representatives who never bothered to read the legislation they passed, or chases after congressmen trying to get them interested in enlisting their children for a tour of duty in Iraq. Aaah, Iraq. The second half of the film deals with the buildup to and execution of our current adventure in nation building. Iraq is shown with a brief clip from before and a whole lot of after -- with its people confused, hurting, seeking their loved ones in the rubble. Our soldiers are also given plenty of time on-screen, time to describe what it's like, time to proclaim the thrills, dangers, and ennui of life as an occupying army. Far from being unsupportive as claimed by its detractors, this film makes every effort to give the front-liners their say. Wounded soldiers are treated with no less compassion than the other victims in this film. And unlike the corporate newsmedia, Moore's cameras dare to follow the injured to the Walter Reed medical center and into their underfunded rehabilitation. And it follows the heart of a patriotic woman from Moore's hometown of Flint whose soldier son makes the ultimate sacrifice for Bush's folly.This is, above all, a sympathetic, patriotic and humanistic movie. Even its main star, George W. Bush, is given a measure of understanding. We understand that he is out of his league, unable to push for the appropriate diplomatic solutions with Saudi Arabia, forever beholden to the corporate interests that purchased his throne, barely capable of coherent thought, and not at all comfortable with the responsibilities of the presidency. He would far rather be golfing, or "lookin' for bugs", or hanging at fundraisers with "the haves and the have-mores"; the presidency is a burden he clearly cannot bear. He almost begs to be removed from office.This movie has a lot more to say than any reviewer's encapsulation can convey. Ignore the naysayers who, in all likelihood, haven't even seen the film. Understand that the facts are the facts, the presentation is Mr. Moore's, and your opinion is your own. My opinion: 10/10 -- If there's a documentary/editorial piece that could touch this one, I haven't seen it yet.
Moore's film strips away the pseudo patriotic facade of the Bush administration with humor and tragedy to create a very compelling but flawed message: Bush used false pretenses to go to war while enriching his friends and letting the common people suffer the fallout. The film moves between powerfully tragic scenes( like the sound of planes flying into the Towers as the screen is blacked out to interviewing a dead soldier's mom) to parody( Bush and Cheney dressed like cowboys in a scene with Bonanza music in the background. Moore raises several provocative questions such as why did Bush sit for seven minutes in an elementary classroom without reacting? Moore suggests answers which imply Bush didn't know what to do. Moore raises questions and suggests answers which right wing critics find abhorrent. His film techniques of showing a triumphant, strutting Bush proclaiming major military operations are over and quickly cutting to a roadside bomb in Iraq exploding, showing Bush as either ignorant, stupid, or mendacious were very powerful. Moore's weakness was in trying to give his audience too many messages in a single film but he comes very close to succeeding. His success was apparent to many right wing radio hosts, who immediately declared him both a liar and antiamerican(or America hating).
Fahrenheit 9/11 is a very powerful and emotionally moving film. My partner and I went with four friends on opening weekend, ages 19 to 56, and we all had tearful moments in between the many laughs and guffaws. One of our friends, who has never voted in the 6 years since he turned 18, has now been moved to become more involved in the political process. This film is not just about "Bush is Bad" but really looks at how the tendrils of big business can, and do, shape the direction our government takes, and where the current administration has gone off track. Be prepared for a few grisly war scenes, but remember, it's nothing compared to what our men and women there have to deal with. Whether you like Micheal Moore or not, you should give this film the opportunity to move you!