Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004) (DVD)

111111111111111111111111111On the brink of war, documentary director Michael Moore, a man whose become synonymous with many labels depending on which political party you belong to, creates his next outrageous documentary/ expose which leans towards the left and garnered many a controversy. Exposing the motives behind the Iraq-American war from the United States, Moore manages to give a disturbing and rather intriguing look at the intentions behind the war, the intentions we were told, and what really happened while showing the things the news never shows, the suffering of the families of the soldiers, how Iraq is suffering just as much and maybe more than we are during this senseless conflict. I’ve never been much of a fan of Moore; he’s a manipulative opportunist and “Bowling for Columbine” was a documentary with much potential that trailed into different topics, but Moore hits the mark with “Fahrenheit 9/11”.

There were just so many scenes during this that I felt were so strategically placed and out of context to prove Moore’s point including some scenes involving Bush and some badly timed comments and jokes that, while not funny, seem to be put to make him come out in a less than positive light to the audience and it made me feel manipulated to buy what Moore was selling. Also, Moore continues in his least subtle more outrageous method of getting to his points by walking Capitol Hill and Washington asking senators to enlist their children to the military and by renting an Ice Cream truck reading the homeland security guidebook. Moore can get his points across in less outlandish ways, but then it wouldn’t be a Michael Moore documentary if he didn’t commit those acts, would it?

Yes, you may suspect what my political leanings are by this review, and you may be right or wrong, but I won’t tell straight out, because I don’t want it to cloud my feelings for this movie. Whether or not this is a good documentary will not come into play. Whether or not this is a good movie depends on whether you support Bush or not. Moore, who remained extra careful this time around hiring lawyers and a large team of fact checkers paints a portrait of a man who wasn’t fit for presidency taking us to war because A) his family has ties to the Bin Laden’s so we went to war with the easy target Iraq, and B) because he was an under-achiever attempting to live up to his father’s career. It’s safe to assume Bush does not come off well here depicted as a trigger happy cowboy, back stabbing worm, and a man incapable of running an organization let alone a country running three oil countries to the ground yet still remained an executive because of his connections.

Moore shows the footage right at the beginning of the documentary of 9/11 where Bush was at a classroom reading with the students, he’s told of the attack, and he sits for seven minutes with a grim expression. Moore meanwhile attempts to discover what was going through his head which looks a lot like horror, confusion and shock that his job just became serious. Moore manages to bring across an electric theme of tragedy, conspiracy and satire through funny mock commercials, witty narration (Moore only appears here in four short segments), and subtitles that undermine what a politician might point out. Meanwhile, he brings to the audience some insight on the government and their ties to other corporations and the obvious tampering of the polls to elect Bush to office, the government’s dismissal of minorities who insist Bush wasn’t elected honestly, not to mention he points out the government’s method in instilling fear into American citizens in order to control them and their tampering of documents and taking away of our civil liberties in order to “protect us” from the bad terrorist men.

Protection doesn’t come through control, it comes through cooperation, something Moore states that the government is unwilling to abide by. Moore shows a government that wants to control the country and used the war as a stepping stone in doing so. Moore gives some really brisk filmmaking while explaining many points of the underlying themes of racism through recruiting as in cornering people in low class neighborhoods less like recruiters and more like car salesmen and we watch two recruiters joking and laughing at minorities as they pass them and declare them as marks giving them every reason why they should join even telling one person that the marines could help with their music career. Regardless of which political party you belong to, watch this documentary and become enlightened before you bash it or praise it. Moore doesn’t only criticize our government’s sketchy handling of 9/11 but he also manages to point out how insanely paranoid we are with one deputy in a small town sending a spy to infiltrate a small peace group.

They weren’t extremist hippies, just people like you and I who ate cookies and discussed politics, not to mention Moore exposes a government that’s lost its priorities and bases its affairs more financially than what’s important to its citizens. We’ve become a nation of people who fear and worry based on ridiculous routines such as the color coded bar which is basically useless. Moore does manage to reveal some interesting and astute points that, if you’ve followed politics intensely, will ring true. Now, as for his statement that the press is behind the government, I’d say they’re more like that kid in the school yard that follows anyone as long as it means he’ll be popular, they lean anywhere because it’s all about the ratings. We also get to witness the suffering of people who really matter: families of the soldiers who went to Iraq, and families from Iraq who suffer everyday.

We witness soldiers who were painted a pretty picture of war and some whom approach the war like a video game in some rather disturbing images, and realize they’re really there for nothing and want to go home. Moore paints a portrait of many layers as we watch a mother suffering with the death of her son and appears at Washington to make peace and cry but is greeted with ignorance from witnesses. We see the usual shock footage Moore shows to bring across his point with most recent videos of Iraqi horror and we have to wonder if the violence was already there or did we just tempt them into aggression? Though, the ending gives no clear answer, it will bring about some sense of enlightenment hopefully and this is one of Moore’s better more insightful documentaries in his career.

The really good part of the DVD features despite the contents that hilariously spoof the utter senseless terrorist color meter, is the special ten minute segment profiling Arab comedians who have their very own tour mocking the misery they’ve encountered post 9/11. Though their misery during the last two years regarding name calling and being profiled as terrorist threats are horrible, they manage to make light of it with some very funny comedy, and that makes them real survivors. While much of the footage is questionable and obviously placed out of context this is nonetheless a gripping, heartbreaking, fascinating and engrossing documentary, and regardless of your political standings I suggest you watch this. People say Moore is Un-American for creating a documentary against the president, well, it’s Un-American not to explore other’s views.