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Fahrenheit 9/11

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Fahrenheit 9/11

Starring: Michael Moore
Director: Michael Moore
Rated: R
RunTime: 112 Minutes
Release Date: June 2004
Genre: Documentary

Review by Jerry Saravia
4 stars out of 4

The following interview took place between me and my alter-ego.

Jerry Saravia: "So what did you think of 'Fahrenheit 9/11'?"

Alter-Ego: "Shameful. How dare Michael Moore make yet another polemic statement about America and misrepresent facts."

J.S.: "Misrepresent facts? Sounds like he was pretty much on the ball with accuracy."

A.E.: "Oh, please. The whole bit about 142 Saudis, some of which were relatives of Bin Laden, being flown out of the country without being interviewed. Who is he kidding? The FBI did interview them."

J.S.: "Well, the mere fact that they were flown out of the country in the days when planes were still grounded is fairly interesting. Some do claim it was long after September 13th, after the planes were allowed to fly. Either way, more than 30 of them should have been interviewed."

A.E.: "Yeah, but that is common knowledge. It is even in Moore's book, 'Dude Where's My Country?', so it is no major revelation."

J.S.: "Yes, but the media carefully avoids mentioning such information nowadays, particularly the relationship with Bush and the Bin Ladens."

A.E.: "Why should the media report this now when they already have in the days following 9/11? And who cares about Bush and the Bin Ladens and Prince Bandar sharing the wealth, as it were. The fact is that the al-Qaida group was responsible for 9/11. That's what people should try to remember."

J.S.: "Nevertheless, there is some damning evidence, like Bush sitting at the class for 7 minutes after being told that the second plane hit the towers."

A.E.: "Hardly damning at all. It's like Moore says in his voice-over - what the heck was the President supposed to do? He wasn't ready for this."

J.S.: "Well, correct me if I am wrong, but the actual words were: 'Mr. President, America is under attack'. After hearing those words, we expect the leader to take notice and flee that classroom."

A.E.: "Yeah, okay, but it still doesn't prove anything."

J.S.: "What do you think about Moore's presentation of the war in Iraq and the days leading to it?"

A.E.: "Sorely lacking in any real weight. Showing a poor woman sobbing over her son's death is not going to make me squirm or cringe - Moore is simply exploiting this woman and the war...and making needless insults at our leader. If there is someone to blame for all the whining about the war and Bush, it is Michael Moore. I, for one, look forward to the film 'Michael Moore Hates America'."

J.S.: "So that is it. You have nothing else to say."

A.E.: "That's it."

J.S.: "Do you think one should approach this film as a polemic of the times, something to think about and ruminate over, like 'Bowling For Columbine'?"

A.E.: "People can watch CNN for the endless war coverage and the Bush/Kerry paranoia of the upcoming election. They don't need a leftist with no real ideals and unsubstantiated facts to do that for us. Particularly someone who put down Bush so vehemently at the 2003 Oscars in just a matter of days after the war started. Now why the hell did you like it?"

J.S.: "I found it emotionally gripping, even for a documentary, and always compelling. It was like watching an adaptation of Moore's book 'Dude, Where's My Country?' Moore has the ability to tell a story with the comic precision and zeal of a real filmmaker, thanks in large part to the editors Kurt Engfehr and Todd Woody Richman. The film rattles your nerves, shakes your own emotions and forces you to think about what is happening to America. Though the brunt of all jokes and accusations are directed to the Bush administration, it also considers America's own position on worldwide affairs. For myself, I found the elaborate Saudi connections with Bush insightful, as well as a scene where Al Gore presides over a joint congressional session where not a single senator comes forward and contests Bush winning the election. And scenes of the deceased soldier's mother, Lila Lipscomb, shown firstly to be a supporter of the war and later in opposition, are heartbreakingly emotional. Moore doesn't shy away from the effects of the war in Iraq and its Iraqi citizens - and we have an Iraqi mother crying over her relatives' deaths as contrast to Lipscomb's grieving period. In short, Moore's film provides a point-of-view, unmistakably anti-war and anti-Bush, and asks you to consider your own opinion of all the hell that broke loose since 9/11. Now imagine British author Christopher Hitchens, one of Moore's detractors, creating such fuss with his own documentaries. And Hitchens doesn't have the knee-slapping humor of Moore, as when Moore asks congressmen to enlist their sons in the war, or when he reads from the Patriot Act on a loudspeaker, the very same document that the congressmen have not fully read."

A.E.: "Yeah, cheap lowbrow humor, if you ask me. Regarding Hitchens, you are basically saying that he doesn't provide links to his facts in his articles. Like the fact that Saddam may have secretly been negotiating with North Korea to buy nuclear weapons? Moore conveniently omits that fact, or the fact that America was indeed threatened by Iraq prior to the war. Need I remind you of the Gulf War?"

J.S.: "Moore may leave out a lot of crucial facts, but so does Hitchens. The point is that Moore is like most documentarians in that he observes and criticizes his subjects, and there is no doubt he can exploit them as well. Yet he is just as harsh, angry and as un-objective as he was in 'Roger and Me'. Consider him the equivalent of Oliver Stone of the wake-up-America call for the truth. He may only offer shards of truth but it is considerably more articulate and devastating than whatever President Bush says during his press conferences."

A.E.: "You should be more supportive of the President than of this poorly made film."

J.S.: "If we live in a democracy, we can criticize the President for any of his actions. It is also a democracy if someone like Michael Moore can make his statements and we can listen to them, whether we agree or disagree."

Copyright 2004 Jerry Saravia

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