Fahrenheit 9/11


Directed by: Michael Moore
Released: July 29, 2004
Grade: A

The most important film of the year, perhaps even the decade, has lived up to expectations.  That sounds like a big statement to be making but I challenge anyone to find a film of equal stance.  So far, the film has grossed over $100m in the United States to become the biggest documentary in cinema history.  But it’s the subject of the documentary which is the key.  In a country where interest in politics has been waning (the last election had the worst voter turn out ever), millions of Americans are being exposed to a secret government underworld which is best described as “shocking”.  With current polls showing things neck and neck between current president George Bush and Democrat contender John Kerry, every ticket sold to a swing voter is pivotal.

The news and publicity surrounding the film has been strong.  Ever since it won the lucrative Palm D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, every journalist and his dog have had a say.  Those against Fahrenheit 9/11 have slammed Moore for misleading the American public and attacked supporting film critics for letting their political views influence their reviews.  Unfortunately, these articles have only spawned even more talk about the film and ironically, more people will go and see it.  I ask the question again, how many films have generated such heated discussion in the past few years?

I suppose I should go on the record as saying I am anti-Bush and perhaps this is why I love the film so much.  It’s important to note though that Fahrenheit 9/11 is not just about George W. Bush.  He is the focus but the film looks heavily at the government as a whole, America’s political system and the war in Iraq.  If you think politics are dull, think again.

From a documentary perspective, it’s near perfect.  Filmmaker Michael Moore has gone to great lengths to make it as persuasive as possible based on factual information.  He doesn’t speak often and impressively, Moore lets the footage and interviews do all the talking.  George Bush comes off looking like a fool.  One of the key scenes is footage of Bush on the morning of September 11, 2001 on learning the news that terrorists were attacking America.  You have to see it to believe it.  Also compelling are the many instances where politicians seem to contradict themselves.  What Colin Powell said about Iraq in 2001 is rather different to his thoughts in 2003.

From a crew perspective, credit to film editor, ,for putting it all together.  Moore was editing the film up right until its release date (to ensure the information was as current as possible) but the whole package looks very good and the order and timing of the scenes is well thought out.  An example would be the humorous introduction.  Lacing the whole film is a haunting film score from  which also deserves praise.

My favourite part of the film is the topic of fear.  Moore also explored this in his last film, Bowling For Columbine, but it’s just staggering how easily the government and the media can instil fear and paranoia in not just Americans, but citizens all over the world.

I stand up and applaud the work of Michael Moore and his film Fahrenheit 9/11.  I’d even say it’s got a shot at being the first ever documentary to be nominated at the Oscars for best picture.  This is huge stuff and it goes to show you can be both entertained and educated in a movie theatre.