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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 Steve Rhodes
1½ stars out of 4

Just as the Nazis had Leni Riefenstahl, the Democrats have Michael Moore to spew their propaganda. Riefenstahl's gift was for breathtaking imagery to tell her story, while Moore's talent is that of a comedian. Using a mixture of lies and half-truths, he makes the audience laugh just like they do at Jay Leno's monologues. FAHRENHEIT 9/11 also has long serious sections in which the ever paranoid Moore finds sinister links in everything he looks at. If the Academy gave an award for the best propaganda picture of the year, FAHRENHEIT 9/11 would win it hands down. It will -- but shouldn't -- win instead in the documentary category, one that has historically been associated with non-fiction films, i.e., ones that try to be truthful.

Moore claims to have thoroughly checked his facts and that everything in the documentary is true. Undoubtedly Hitler would have said the same thing about what he viewed as his masterpiece, "Mein Kampf." Both men reveal reality as they see it. Many articles have been written on how both men shaded reality to suit their political purposes -- one for the radical right and the other for the radical left. Moore has said that his goal for the movie is that it will bring down the man he loathes with a passion, President Bush. Others, who don't find truth quite so malleable, may find themselves questioning almost all of Moore's sensational conclusions -- the biggest of which being that in the wealth of the Saudi royal family and in purported old bin Ladin family ties with the Bush family lies the explanation about many of the mysteries surrounding 9/11.

The media, even before the film's release, have provided it record setting free publicity, unlike any previous documentary. In contrast, a similarly scandalous film with a different political perspective, THE CLINTON CHRONICLES, was ignored or quickly dismissed as obviously ridiculous by the main-stream press. Such a critical look has not been given to Moore's picture, with TV talk show hosts and film critics around the country singing Moore's praises.

The liberals love FAHRENHEIT 9/11, which is no surprise. The question is whether such a vituperative approach will backfire, causing heartland Americans and independents to disassociate themselves from any party that champions such films. On the other hand, gullible independent voters may be influenced by Moore's "facts."

Since the film is one long editorial -- Moore himself has called it his "op-ed" piece -- it is impossible to review it as anything other than a political ad. In the movie's most exploitive moment, Moore has a tearful mother read the last letter of her dying soldier son who says that he hopes that Bush is defeated.

The master of the ambush interview, Moore is at it again. This time he accosts members of Congress on the street, asking them in front of the cameras if they want their kids to be sent to fight in Iraq. Turnabout is not fair play, however. Moore has refused to be interviewed by filmmaker Michael Wilson for his movie, MICHAEL MOORE HATES AMERICA, which tries to document Moore's constant prevarications and his motivations. Moore is not going to let anyone be permitted to harass him the way he harasses others, sort of an anti-Golden Rule.

The falsehoods and shadings of the truth start at the very beginning of the movie when Moore claims that numerous independent investigations have documented that Gore really won Florida and hence the election. In reality, the various investigations have at least been mixed, and, I believe, more show that Bush would have won Florida in a full recount. Moore, by giving only half of the story, tries to lead the audience to a false conclusion.

Another time, he says that Bush can't get his judges appointed, as if it is his problem rather than the Democrats who have used filibusters and committees to prevent a full Senate vote in which almost all of his judges have a solid majority of support. Again, he tells just enough of a story to lead the audience to his version of reality.

Then there is Moore's harping on the length of the president's vacations. In reality, presidents hardly ever get a full day off, reading briefings and consulting with officials every day. As Bush tells the press, "You don't have to be in Washington to work." Moore just doesn't get it or, more accurately, just doesn't want to.

Moore constantly takes trivial facts and talks about them in such somber tones that he makes you think they must mean something really important and terribly evil. Moore, for example, tells us solemnly that the president "slept that night [9/10] in a bed made of French linen." Wow. What a revelation!

Moore takes his usual cheap shots, this time at the "coalition of the willing" that won the liberation of Iraq. It is a large group of nations, but he mentions only the tiniest, leaving the impression that the only big country in it is the U.S. Big countries in it like Britain, Italy, Spain and Poland are not listed.

The film is respectably constructed with old Dragnet and Bonanza footage to jazz it up plus some provocative musical selections. Most of it, however, gets butt-numbingly pedantic and repetitive, like the confused rantings and ravings of an old man who has long since stop making sense. Moore tries his best to make a likable guy like Bush appear to be a complete idiot. The now widely revered President Reagan was ridiculed by the left and by the media when he was in office. He was called a dangerous cowboy just as Bush is called today. Reagan is rightly praised for winning the cold war -- and for starting the longest peacetime expansion in our country's history. Whether history will later praise Bush for bringing democracy to the Middle East and for effectively combating terrorism, only time will tell.

Some of us would rather trust our security to a man like President Bush. Others would prefer to place our security in people of Michael Moore's ilk. Elections in a free society are for deciding just such issues. And, by the way, the Iraqis, too, will soon -- thanks to the war that Moore claims was inhumane and unnecessary -- finally have the freedom to vote in free elections.

"Behave yourself, will you?" a jocular President Bush tells Moore in their brief first meeting ever. "Go find real work." But Moore has a real job. He's a one-man propaganda machine for the stars, the Hollywood stars, who are 98% liberal Democrats and who, after the trial lawyers, are the biggest supporters of the Democrats.

FAHRENHEIT 9/11 runs a long 1:50. It is rated R for "some violent and disturbing images, and for language" and would be acceptable for teenagers.

Copyright 2004 Steve Rhodes

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