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Culture Reviews
Fahrenheit 9/11 / By M. Moore/
Dome Cinema 
By Ryan Macalino
Call it opinionated, call it biased. Call it a lack of professionalism on Michael Moore for bringing this movie – and his political views and agenda – out in the open. There have been many attempts to discredit Fahrenheit 9/11 for many reasons, but there is no denying this movie’s sheer relevance, not only to America but to the rest of the world.

The controversial political nature of this motion picture is able to reach Moscow, too. Even by scrolling through the forums on this website alone, one could see the film’s title used as a thread, populated by opposing viewpoints. (Well, albeit they are comments from about 8 weeks ago, but I’m sure that’ll change soon enough...)

By now, I’m assuming that many people have seen this movie, or have heard about a scene here or there, or at the very least know what this movie is about. It is the third documentary to come out of the mind of Moore, known for his Academy award-winning Bowling for Columbine.

Beginning the movie with the American Presidential Elections of 2000 (and its very questionable outcome), he then proceeds to show the lackluster performance of George W, up until the horrific events of September 11. Moore then investigates and illustrates the measures taken after 9/11, the dubious connection between Saudi elite and the Bush circle, up to the possible reasons behind the US-led incursion of Iraq. The third act of the film focuses more on the people who fought the wars, Iraq and prior, and the ramifications dealt to people in poor neighborhoods such as Moore’s hometown of Flint, Michigan.

The film is carried out in Moore’s usual style, in a fashion a bit less aggressive than his previous outings. It still has Moore’s patented blend of irony, sarcasm, and humor, but not so much of his guerilla-style confrontations. In fact, one can probably count on one hand the number of times Moore appears on screen. This time around, he presents his viewpoint mainly in images, music, and narration. In effect, Fahrenheit is Moore’s most cinematic effort to date.

In fact, Moore was honored earlier this year at Cannes, where Fahrenheit was given the festival’s top award: the Palme d’Or. Note aside, this itself also was a point of controversy, as it marked the first time that the Cannes jury had defended their selection. The detractors have good points; there are none of the usual mise-en-scene elements that would entail cinematic merit. However, the pure strength of this film is in the editing – that Moore is able to take pieces of existing material and present it either as pure picture, pure sound, or through the synergistic way he’s able to juxtapose these elements to full effect.

There is one scene near the opening credits where the screen is completely black for a few minutes, while the viewer’s powers of imagination are exercised upon hearing sounds of planes, explosions, chaos, and anguish. By the time the shocking images of 9/11 are shown, I was already feeling distraught. And then, there is the infamous candid scene of George W’s inaction upon hearing about the attacks. The 7+ minutes of W reading “My Pet Goat” along with the classroom of children elicit feelings of pity, violation, and absurdity; it was very long and very disconcerting.

Moore’s presentation of this film is a lot subtler when compared to his earlier work, but he goes all out. Fahrenheit is an antiwar film with a very urgent politically-charged agenda: he wants Bush out. Not only does he criticize the motives of seated Republicans, but he also criticizes the passivity of seated Democrats. In defense of this overt partiality, what he is doing is mainly a reaction to inequitable practices of the mainly Republican-owned American media, and he’s doing it with a lot of noise.

Before the release of Fahrenheit 9/11, Moore’s disclosure of Disney’s attempts to block its distribution did wonders for the marketing of this movie, and thus the marketing of Moore’s message. In reaction to recent polls leading to the upcoming 2004 Elections (showing Bush in the lead), Moore has decided to try his best to have the movie televised, in order to reach the most number of viewers. Effectively withdrawing himself from a surefire Best Documentary Oscar, Moore hopes that this political maneuvering is enough to unseat Bush. This move won’t nullify his chances for Best Picture however, and Moore is well-aware of this.

Controversial as it is, Fahrenheit 9/11 has the immediacy, influence, and importance that not many films have. While in the eyes of many this probably won’t make it this year’s best, it certainly is this year’s most significant.

24.09.04
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