i suppose it’s impossible, but for the sake of this review i’ll try to separate the philosophy and the film. first the film: the film is great. it certainly deserved the palme d’or because moore clearly has a way with the film medium. the introduction is a long preface to the rest of the film which features voice-over from moore about bush leading up to the events on 9/11. he addresses the debacle in florida, the extended vacations bush was taking just before 9/11, and the deliberate speed that bush employed after hearing that two planes had hit the wtc. a lot of this opening introduction before the credits is done in slow motion with a score that resembles something between godspeed you black emperor! and philip glass. though not as good as either, it’s effective – rather quickly we our viewing world slows down and settles into a mood and state of mind that is almost trancelike. when the title sequence roles it sort of snaps you back into filmgoing mode. after this moore makes his case against bush, or, more accurately, makes a case for the bushes and bin ladens as bedfellows. he draws links between bush buddies and bin laden family members, between the bush family and saudi nationals. he outlines the same events following 9/11 that he went over in detail in “dude, where’s my country?” so it’s not much new for those of you who have read it. for those who haven’t – basically the bin ladens got a free pass to fly out of the country while all other air traffic was halted. his argument of war in iraq as an economic decision for bush and his buddies is bolstered by all sorts of evidence, some direct and some circumstantial, but the sum of the parts has a pretty devastating effect. of course juxtaposition a favorite tool of his (and most great filmmakers)…he uses this to great comic effect as well as a method of strengthening his arguments against bush as president, or our hate of bush as a person. he’ll show bush being a bumbling idiot who jokes about war and pair that with the grim realities of war. no member of the bush administration (or any political official for that matter) is off limits. his editing is great, but i wish he could have found a way to structure the film slightly differently. the first half was very much an academic visual essay, and the second half was more of an impassioned essay. he has always done an amazing job of combining humor, investigative reporting and the human element. this film, though balanced on the whole, was not as balanced throughout the film as his previous efforts.
fahrenheit 9/11 is clearly a michael moore film. one thing you can say for the guy, if nothing else, is that he’s consistent. from day one (even before 1989’s roger & me) he has been taking on the big corporate interests. roger and me and the big one were both almost entirely dedicated to the human impact of downsizing and the inherent greed of a corporate, globalized world. bowling for columbine combined this with a newer wrinkle about control of the public, namely that of fear. fahrenheit 9/11 finds michael moore revisiting all these themes – he goes back to flint and ties together what happened there as a result of General Motors leaving, to the high enrollment of marines in the area. comedy “bits” like reading the patriot act to members of congress while in an ice cream truck, or trying to get congressmen to sign their children up for the marine core, are straight out of his work in the awful truth and tv nation. he readdresses the methods of fear those in power employ to control the masses – threat levels, an unconquerable enemy, “us versus them”, “the enemy could be anywhere,” etc., just like he did in bowling for columbine; and all of that comes together nicely in this film. so while this film wasn’t as impactful as bowling for columbine, as mind blowing as the first time i watched roger & me, or as funny as the big one, it may be his best work because he is able to bring everything together rather well. some may say that his work suffers when he strays from the facts to poke fun at the way bushies comb their hair, or look at the camera, or sing songs (ashcroft), or whatever, but that’s part of the moore signature and part of what separates his films from films like “fog of war” or “uncovered: the truth about the iraq war,” which are great in their own right, but drier.Watched in theater