May 2020


Fahrenheit 9/11

Last night I joined a large number of my fellow Bloomington citizens and saw Fahrenheit 9/11, that new film by Michael Moore. I suppose I could be like many other people out there and write some fantastic review of the film that makes it seem like the second coming of Christ, but that would be repetitive and boring. You’ve probably either already read an enthusiastic review, a nutty diatribe against it, or written something about it already.

Rather I am going to look at the film in the larger context of Michael Moore films.

For some reason, I’ve always enjoyed Moore’s first film, “Roger & Me.” I still remember seeing it in the movie theaters back when I was a kid in Denver. I have no idea why my parents would have taken me to see it, but we did. After seeing it in the theater, I lost touch with the film until spring 1999, when I was looking for something to show D’s class while he was away on a business trip. Somehow we picked the film “Roger & Me,” and it resonated with me.

Showing it in class is one of my favorite things to do, for in a 75 minute class, assuming you start the film promptly in the first minute or two of class, it has a natural stopping point, when the rabbit gets whacked. The whacking is ok since the rabbit is going to be used as food, but students are always a bit squeamish when it happens, and the tension in the classroom is palpable and students are left with an impressive image in their minds as they make their was from class to class. Unfortunately I suspect that students at my school get desensitized to the film after two viewings: it is an exceptionally popular film to show.

The second Michael Moore film, “Bowling for Columbine” made me extremely uncomfortable. I saw the film twice in the theater. Once in Konstanz, Germany, where it was advertised as being in the original English, but ended up being in the original English except when the narrator spoke, and then it was in German. I understood the movie though, but that didn’t stop me from going to see it again when I was back in America.

Unfortunately, although the film won an Oscar and Moore delivered a kick-ass speech while accepting the award, I was extremely uncomfortable whilst watching the film. In particular, I was disturbed while watching Moore interview Charlton Heston. Granted Heston is a pretty stupid individual/president of the NRA and I hope that the guns have been pried from his Alzheimer’s laced hands despite the fact that he’s not yet dead, but that doesn’t really justify the interview. We all know Heston is mentally incompetent, but the interviews did not substantially improve the film.

This film, Fahrenheit 9/11, was a much better thought out and designed film, although as one review noted, it doesn’t really leave you any significant conclusions to draw, they’re practically completely filled in for you in advance leaving but small steps. It is also by far the most political. Being somewhat of a wimp, I was compelled to turn my eyes away several times in order to not get sick.

That said, everybody should see it- a few more sick stomachs might help the US get back on the right track come November.

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