Review: Fahrenheit 9/11

Posted by: Dean Kish  //  June 25, 2004 @ 11:59am

Filed under: Reviews

"The temperature where freedom burns!"

The documentary (if you can call it that) that stunned audiences at Cannes and has split opinions of future American voters is getting ready to burst into theatres.

The fourth theatrical documentary released from edgy director Michael Moore opens with the controversial Florida vote in the 2000 election that saw incumbent George W. Bush topple Vice President Al Gore for the presidency. Then the film's timeline continues as it looks at the horrific events of 9/11 and eventually the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts.

In the film, however, there seems to be three entities fighting for screen time. First, you have a documentary that tries to cover the timeline of George W. Bush, then you have Moore's mission statement to uncover the dark side of a president, and finally you have a film of raw emotion that seems to tie everything together.

Moore's timeline in the film is erratic as it jumps ahead quite quickly so that he can get it all in. So much is covered that we really never know where he is going to jump to next.

Moore's mission to unseat a president seems to be the focus of his documentary and his bold one-sided argument is presented as a documentary, but can it be classed as such? Documentaries are defined as a presentation of facts objectively without editorializing or inserting fictional matter. In Moore's film, he uncovers evidence and footage to support his hypotheses, but does it without really giving the audience a chance to see the other side. Are his claims true? In some respects yes, and in others who knows, because he never allows the viewer to make their own conclusions.

Finally, the third portion of his film deals with the epic struggle of a Flint, Michigan woman who loves her country and is devoted to sending her children into the military. In her city, it seems to be the only recourse since most have no other choice. Her life and vision is abruptly shattered when her son is killed in the crash of a Blackhawk helicopter in Iraq. Her emotional breakdown and doubt of her country should have been the focus of Moore's piece instead of his own anti-Bush agenda.

Her story is crippling, but its power is lost as Moore's warpath overshadows the significance of what we sacrifice when our country goes to war. Moore does do a good job on uncovering the fact that a lot of rich, well-off senators don't really care and think he's nuts when he asks them to sign up their children for the military.

I won't get into my views on the whole Bush situation. I won't tell you my opinions of Moore or what he is doing, because I am just here to look at how it is all presented.

It is an amazing piece of celluloid that is sure to make a lot of people mad. But at least with that, they watched and listened to a viewpoint that isn't at the forefront of democracy.

I just hope after the heat leaves the theatre, that people think about what they saw, discuss it, and develop their own conclusions. We should never follow anything blindly even if it is a charismatic president or an edgy documentarian. (4 out of 5) So Says the Soothsayer.

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