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Fahrenheit 9 11

Go see this movie. You owe it to yourself.

If you don't care much for Michael Moore, don't worry – you won't see much of him here. Moore narrates, and his opinion of the current administration is a strong one, but his viewpoint is not what makes this documentary so effective. What I found overwhelming were the visuals, things that we're not seeing on CNN: documents about the connections between the Bush family and the house of Saud; harmless American peace groups being infiltrated by the FBI because of provisions of the Patriot Act; burned Iraqi women and babies who committed the terrible crime of being in the wrong place at the wrong time; and wounded American soldiers who must now live out their young lives without arms or legs.

George W. Bush strongly limits his public appearances, and has given fewer press conferences than any president in recent history. But we see plenty of him in this movie, and there is something deeply disturbing about seeing him playing golf, enjoying a life of privilege, gleefully calling a roomful of millionaires his "base," constantly connecting September 11 to Saddam Hussein as if saying it repeatedly will make it so. What I found especially unnerving was Bush's glee, his constant grin. He never shows any sign whatsoever that the deaths of hundreds of soldiers and thousands of Iraqis, just or unjust, has had any effect on him. Bush looks like a guy who is having a good time, who sleeps well at night, unlike many of the soldiers who talk to Moore about their feelings.

There are some images that are unforgettable: Bush looking stunned, sitting for seven minutes in an elementary school with "My Pet Goat" in his hands while the towers fell; young American soldiers talking about what songs they play in their tanks while attacking; Michael Moore driving around the capital in an ice cream truck reading the Patriot Act on the loud speaker (making the point that members of Congress hadn't actually read the thing before making it law). The most moving clips are of women who have lost the most: an Iraqi woman screaming to God for justice and revenge on America for what we have done to her family, and a Michigan woman named Lilah Lipscomb who lost her son in Iraq and who now sees this war as a travesty. I think I will always see one particular shot of Lipscomb, overwhelmed with grief and anger, just standing in front of the White House.

It is not surprising that the right wing is doing everything up to and including playground insults of Moore in order to suppress this film; they are unable to refute it factually, and it makes Bush and company look like mercenary deceivers simply by showing us their unvarnished words and deeds. But I came away thinking that this film was deeply patriotic. Moore shows over and over throughout the film that he loves his country, that he respects our troops. What can be more American than expressing one's opinion about the government? Trying to expose a wrong in order to right it? Isn't that the kind of freedom America is supposed to be about, whether you agree with it or not?
Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

1 comment:

  1. Love him or hate him, you have to admit that Michael Moore knows how to put a documentary together. I think it's hilarious that one of the things people attack him for is having a strong viewpoint. Of course he makes these movies to try to convince people of things. Isn't that sort of the point?

    Haven't seen this one in a while, Netflix Instant is constantly adding and removing his docs for some reason. You mentioned my favorite parts, though: Bush playing golf just before 9/11, the mom who loses her son, and the FBI getting...creative...with the Patriot Act.


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