July 14, 2004

Fahrenheit 9/11

Up for debate: Fahrenheit 9/11

Seen: June 25, 2004, swarmed by local news cams.

I recommend this movie, no matter your political affiliation.

It's a bit disjointed, wanders and rambles before settling into making a point, but it is neither the irresponsible horror its critics accuse it of being, nor the work of overwhelming brilliance a few of the supporters claim it to be. It's an interesting, though-provoking, biased work. (And we're all clear that "biased" does not mean "false," yes?) The filmmaker has fondness for and sympathy with the soldiers, especially the youngest ones (the very young soldier calling an Iraqi just a kid then correcting himself to say that the guy was probably 17 and therefore not a kid, was particularly poignant). There's nothing unpatriotic about the movie, whether or not it is the sort of patriotism you espouse or I espouse. Michael Moore clearly has a love affair burning with his country. I wouldn't date him, but I wouldn't cut off my best friend for flirting with him.

Thomas Payne, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson... Michael Moore?

Fahrenheit 9/11 is a set of information and human interest stories and slices of weird-but-true-life incidents assembled from director Michael Moore's personal point of view. He talks to the audience and presents his outlook much the same way Morgan Spurlock presents his in Super Size Me. Moore doesn't wildly ambush people in an out-of-control Jerry-Springer-show way, but he does use confrontational tactics in his attempt to get attention for his particular cause. Confrontation for Moore includes insisting a public official address a question from one of the public, at that citizen's convenience rather than at the elected official's control. From the criticism I'd heard, I expected to find Moore lowering a boom mike over a toilet stall, and what we do see in the movie in that regard is almost disappointingly mellow.

That the film is presented from Moore's point of view doesn't invalidate it as something to provoke thought. I challenge all Americans to see it. See it at a cheap matinee if you're uncomfortable spending money on it, and see it at a small local theatre as a way to support the neighbourhood economy. Use it as a jumping-off point to open conversation not just with your likeminded friends but with that coworker who votes differently; use it to discuss the points the film raises and their validity, and discuss the state of the current debate in this country, rather than simply focussing on ad hominem critiques of the filmmaker. Using Moore as the basis for a cross-philosophy discussion might make opening up communication with those who think differently a little easier.

Please note: Moore does not repeat the images of 9/11 we've all seen far too many times, but runs a soundtrack over a blank screen, then shows reactions of people on the street. He does however show footage of the contractors whose burned bodies were put on display in Iraq, footage I had made a serious effort to avoid seeing, only to be shown it thirty feet tall in the movie theatre. There is also footage of wounded and injured Iraqis and U.S. soldiers. This is only a small portion of the film; please don't let it prevent you from seeing it. Avert your eyes as necessary.

There was no Outside Food with this film; it was too emotionally engaging for me to think of munching anything. Your own emotions may vary, but I doubt any viewer will remain dispassionate.

Posted by OutsideFood at July 14, 2004 12:42 PM

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