Saturday, June 26, 2004

Fahrenheit 9/11

I didn't like Bowling for Columbine. The title itself is an urban legend - Harris and Klebold didn't go bowling before they shot up the school. There were shoddy points of rhetoric, too. Moore visits a defense plant in the area and argues that the plant builds weapons, creating an atmosphere of violence. The plant builds rockets to launch satellites. Not that the point would be any more valid if it did make missiles. These are just a few of the problems with the film. Here's a good reference point. So when I first heard about Fahrenheit 9/11, I was afraid that we were going to get more confused propaganda and sloppy fact-checking.

Fahrenheit 9/11, though, is fantastic. Gone are the confused points and shoddy facts. Instead, it presents solid information and strongly, well-argued points about the war and its handling. It is a wonderful counterpoint to the way the war was portrayed throughout the buildup and the early days, back when the mission was said to have been accomplished. OK, there's one kinda dopey tangent about Oregon, but otherwise, it's solid.

Moore's been watching Errol Morris, I think. F911 is filled with Morrisesque music, the busy little tunes of existential dread which work quite well in this context. Amusingly, the film's distributed by Lion's Gate Films, which now uses LGF as its logo. LGF is an amusing thing to see at the beginning of this anti-Bush flick.

I saw in Missouri, in St. Louis. It was playing on two screens at the west olive 16, and one of the screens had sold out by the time I showed up at 7. Usually, they stagger the showings when they play a film across two screens. A computer printout on the front door of the theater announced a couple of cancelled showings of other films, so it seems that they underestimated the crowd for the film.

At one point, Moore talks about John Ashcroft losing to Mel Carnahan. As soon as he showed a picture of Mel, the crowd erupted in applause, as it did at the end of the movie.

One particularly notable moment in the film comes when a woman whose son died in Iraq visits the White House. She sees somebody protesting the war and goes up to the person to commiserate. Another lady strolls on screen and yells, "it's all staged," referring to the protestor. At this point, the bereaved mother turns to her and says that her son's death wasn't staged. This shuts up the winger for a while, but she gets enough courage to shout out "Blame Al Qaeda" to the crying woman's back. This is a point which has bugged me for a long time. NBC news would always talk about the Iraq war as being a part of the "War on Terror," which it isn't and never was. In the film, the crying lady bemoans the winger's ignorance.

I'm just really glad that it's out now, and that lots of people are going to see it. We've been bombarded over and over again by the media telling us that the Iraq war was a vital part of the "War on Terror," and nobody ever seemed to say what was the truth, the plain, simple, obvious truth: That the Iraq War had nothing to do with terrorism.

It's a good movie.


Anonymous said...

With the exception of the two pranks I thought it was very well done and quite moving. He found a way to impart new emotion onto the now almost trite images of 9-11, with the audio-only beginning, the Brazil-like images of paper falling, etc.
But I worry that he's a little too skillful in moving the audience. Presenting evidence that these Straussians had motives other than anti-terrorism for invading Iraq is great, but I think he allows his viewers to conclude that their only motives were cronyism, and with his images (sustained close-ups of the lizard-like administration, pictures of them consorting with A-rabs) he makes this conclusion likely.
He relies too much on allowing the viewer to connect the dots without explicitly stating his accusations (the same technique I despise when I see it in something like a George Will column). In short, I think he crosses over from argument to propoganda.

Oh, and hey Matt! This is Lars, from PwayNo. You're in St. Louis too, eh?

Matt said...

Lars! How's it going! Drop me an email at factory123 at

There certainly is a bit of underhandedness going on in some of those parts - showing scary looking ragheads shaking hands with people, lots of connections without explicit explanations. It's like going all black helicopter-y without talking about black helicopters. After years and years of Rush Limbaugh, etc, doing the same and far worse, though, I think I'd give Moore a pass if he insinuated that w liked Laura to use a strap on.