Eye For Film >> Movies >> Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004) Film Review
Reviewed by: David Stanners
Love him, or loathe him, you can't help but notice him. Crass manipulator of facts, or grand master whistleblower, the decision is yours. One thing's for sure, Michael Moore despises everything about his beloved nation's "fictitious President". Well, everything except the underlying fact that he has managed to market two best-selling books about him and pocket a small fortune as a result.
Following his Oscar-winning triumph, Bowling For Columbine, Moore, in his latest documentary, has spliced together a substantial vitriolic assault on the Bush administration that may grant him as many enemies as supporters should his claims prove unfounded. Conversely, with the impending presidential elections, this could prove an irreparable body blow to the Republican camp.
Timing is everything, and some have dismissed Moore's recent highly publicised struggle to secure the film's distribution from Disney's subsidiary, Miramax, as a shameless PR stunt. What is certain, though, is that the content of Fahrenheit 9/11 is controversial enough to cause organised chaos among the governing classes. Allegedly, right wing groups are already launching their own anti-Moore crusade, with proposed campaigns and festivals aimed at debunking everthing he stands for.
So what's all the fuss about? From start to finish, the film is an excoriating one-sided attack on Bush's every move. Starting with his presidential campaign, predating the 2000 elections, Moore believes he lied, cheated and cajoled his way to The White House, relying on a right wing biased media, family ties and a racist political system to aid and abet his campaign. This is only the first of many lambasting assertions. He goes on to accuse his administration of fraternising with the Devil, pre 9/11, scamming oil deals galore with the bin Laden family, including plans for a lucrative gas pipeline, flowing from central Asia to Afghanistan. All this is part of the $860 billion profits US banks have made from Saudi Arabian investments (supposedly 7 per cent of America's wealth). These claims are only tasters.
After 9/11, Moore's tirade shifts up a gear. Only days after the event, he claims - with the backing of carefully selected FBI agents - the government fatally allowed members of bin Laden's family to leave the country, at a time when "even Ricky Martin wasn't allowed out." This leads to the accusation that Bush and his cronies weren't really that fussed about snuffing out Osama. After all, his family had invested millions in Bush's earlier oil companies. Oh no, the war in Afghanistan against al-Qaeda was really part of a duplicitous grand scheme. The government's real aim was to buy time by manifesting widespread fear amongst the American public, before the grand quest of invading Iraq to flush out the big germ Bush Senior had failed to do during his stretch.
This may sound like one clumsy hatchet job, in a desperate attempt to dethrone George and his buddies. In a way it is, but as they say, you can't argue with a confident man, and if nothing else, Moore if very confident. Or, at least, he appears so, which is what matters. Things really hit home with moving images of both American and Iraqi civilians and soldiers getting limbs blown off. Emotion reaches fever pitch when Moore heads to his hometown of Flint, Michigan, where a local family have lost their son fighting in the war. These images of grief are manipulated extremely effectively to reveal a tragic picture in American politics.
Fahrenheit 9/11 is powerful, thought-provoking and highly selective. Moore demonstrates a master class in black and white history, yet somehow pulls it off. No Republican gets a chance to fight his corner. With the facts presented as skilfully as they are - usually steeped in a deluge of statistics - credit must be awarded to the man who comes off the fence, even if history may prove it to be with a rather hefty thud.Reviewed on: 09 Jul 2004