Directed by Michael Moore
Reviewed by MaT, added on Jan 1 2005
Fahrenheit 9/11 is the controversial new "documentary" by filmmaker Michael Moore criticizing the Bush administrations justifications for the Iraq War as well as their actions directly after September 11th. The film has caused liberals to cheer, and conservatives to decry its worth or its crappiness depending on which side of the fence your allegiances lie.
The film opens with a brief recap of the election of 2000, in which George Bush squeeked out a narrow win over Al Gore, and quickly tells the events that led up to September 11th. The "money" shot of Moore's film, unedited footage of President Bush sitting in a classroom for 7 minutes after being told of the trade center attacks, comes early and Moore uses it to set up "What could he have been thinking?" scenarios which branch out into the various topics of the film such as the Bin Laden/Bush family connections.
The first half of the film is where most of the technical information that Moore is trying to let the audience "in" on is shown. We have a deluge of stuff being thrown at us. Halliburton connections, Bush being investigated for FCC violations, the machinations of the Carlyle Group, Saudi Princes and their connections to the Bush oil and business ventures, and so on and so on. In fact, there is so much info being thrown at the audience (and Moore doesn't spend a lot of time on each topic, which means things can get confusing real quick) that most people will probably forget most of what Moore is saying in the first place.
The movie takes a sharply different direction about half-way through. In fact, Bush is barely in the second half of the film (other than a hilarious closing piece before the credits). Instead, Moore decides to showcase unedited bloody footage of the effects of war in iraq (severed limbs, dead babies, civilian casualties), soldiers questioning why they are their in the first place, and follows a woman who's son recently was killed in Iraq. The second half is without a doubt the most powerfull part of the film.
Overall, the movie is quite powerfull, especially the scenes with the mother of the deceased soldier towards the end. There is enough information in the film to make anybody at least think twice before blindly following the Bush administration, however you'll probably need more than one viewing to understand it all. From what I have seen, pretty much everything in the film is based on factual evidence. Conservatives will argue that Moore puts his own spin on things, however aside from the film being Moore's opinion, it doesn't get much "factual" stuff wrong.
On the downside, a lot of the war footage seemed very out of place. The images of dead civilians are quite disturbing, but it didn't seem to make sense to put the "soldier" angle into the film. Also, the film went a little crazy and erratic. One big problem is that Moore tried to cover way to many things in the span of 2 hours. everything from border control, to undercover terrorist agents infiltrating peace clubs, to halliburton, to the war and so on and so on. Its not as "tight" as Moore's previous hit "Bowling for Columbine". The pacing seems a little off, especially when the film suddenly switches gears, and the film seem to drag on a little too long.
With all of its flaws, Fahrenheit 9/11 is still a great piece of filmmaking. Michael Moore knows how to put a compelling piece of cinema together and divide people, but most of all, he knows how to get people talking. If nothing else, the film will provide endless political debate and get people who weren't interested in politics to give the subject a second look. Whether its a true documentary is debatable, but i'd like to consider it an "opinion-editorial" film, instead of newsprint, it uses celluloid to tell its tale.