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Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004)

  Directed by: Michael Moore
Written by: Michael Moore
Starring: Michael Moore
Links: Fahrenheit 9/11 on the IMDb, Official site, Buy the Book
Genre: Documentary

This movie gets: 7.00 (2 ratings)
nofreelist.com Ranking: Ranked equal 104th of 187 movies (2 ratings minimum; see full chart)

Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004) is also mentioned in mino's review of The Party's Over (2001).

"Disappointing" - a review by timchuma

I've been a fan of Michael Moore's work ever since watching his show The Awful Truth on SBS, and I enjoyed his work in Bowling for Columbine (2002). I think that this documentary is not as good as his previous work as he is starting to think too much of himself and that he has the power to influence normal people which he does not (the outcome of the 2004 U.S. presidential election proved that).

I know that this movie won the Palme d'Or at Cannes, but that had a lot to do with it coming along at the right time and it matching the opinions of the judges. It didn't really tell me anything I didn't already know about US / Saudi relations and some of the arguments in it are really tired.

Matt Stone and Trey Parker seem to be pretty tolerant people, and if you manage to piss them off there is something wrong. What they said about how their interview was used in Bowling for Columbine is also true here. There is no reason to have extended scenes of people crying other than to twist the audience around to the filmmaker's point-of-view. The U.S. senators that were interviewed would also have to be pretty pissed off, as their views were reduced to sound-bites that make them sound uniformly bad.

Given the saturation coverage the Iraq war received, it doesn't really add much to the movie to show even more footage. Probably the only scene to be commended in this section is the footage shot from the Iraqi people's point-of-view.

Another problem I have with this movie is the ending: one of the laziest and most hackneyed things you can do is quote from George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984). It may have been in fashion a couple of decades ago, but surely it would be better to think of something original to say in order to sum up your argument.

What I also don't like is that this movie has inspired too many people who don't really have a decent story to tell to try their hand at documentary making, thus wasting gigabytes of storage space for digital video that could be better used to store porn.

timchuma gives this movie 6 out of 10.
Review created on Tue 22 Mar 2005

"It's not the bits you see, it's the bits you don't" - a review by pearly

The documentaries of Michael Moore, although about different topics, are all essentially the same. Moore is the kind of documentarian who lets his opinion come across, quite strongly, in his films. Moore is likely to gain (indeed, he already has) a larger audience than ever with Fahrenheit 9/11, his latest film. This aspect of his films is something with which these new viewers may not be familiar, but by the end of the film, they will hopefully have figured it out.

Moore has directing, writing, and starring credits for Fahrenheit 9/11. Although his face is not on screen as much as it was for his earlier films, he is still all over it, and in some ways, possibly even more so. Almost the entire film, made up of mostly found footage of war, terror, and the pres, is played to a voice over by the man himself. His monotone serves as the most familiar theme running through the whole thing, which is often disjointed. And the way he delivers these words which he has likely laboured over for many months is serious, yet just teeters on the edge of being humourous. It's all very Mooresque.

Fahrenheit 9/11 is very confronting viewing. Among its more intense moments are images of a public beheading, mistreatment of prisoners by U.S. soldiers, dead Iraqi civilians (including children), a young boy (perhaps dead) with clearly soiled pants being carried to safety. These images are interspersed between interviews with people that Moore feels have some relevance to the rest of his story. However, for Fahrenheit 9/11, Moore has done less with the unsuspecting interview technique that he has relied upon so much in the past. There are interviews with troops on the field, a time lapsed look at one particular family with a son in service, and some interviews with government officials, but all of these come across as more scheduled interviews. Just occasionally do we see Moore approaching people on the street, out of the blue. One example of this is him approaching senators to try and get them to enlist their children, after quoting the statistic that only one senator has a child in service.

This change in style should lend a bit of credibility to Moore, as his usual technique is a lot more bullying, and used mostly for shock value and the priceless hand in front of the camera shot. It's good to see that with Fahrenheit 9/11, the scheduled interviews are more interesting than the ones done in this fashion, notably, the footage of the family, beginning with a patriotic woman raising the American flag each morning, and ending with a tearful reading of a son's last letter home to his family. This amazing story, which could only have been captured in such a way by pure fluke on Moore's part, is one of the things that ties the film together, though it frustrated me that it wasn't made more crystal clear that the two pieces were linked, as it was easy to forget the names and faces with so much else going on between. A reference to dates would have been nice too.

This is one of the film's more negative aspects. It often seems as though Moore has firstly gathered his found footage, as well as the bits he's filmed himself, and then thought "right, how can I turn this into one cohesive piece?", and gone about trying to force bits in here and there with sometimes awkward and misleading voiceovers to move from one to the next. This left me feeling at times disoriented, not knowing whether one thing really did relate to another, or whether it was just the way that it was edited. And then, of course, if you have a cautious mind, you begin to wonder whether you're being led down the garden path. For some bits, I had to rely on having read Moore's Dude, Where's My Country? to have a better understanding of what was going on, as the book is most definitely a written version of the contents of the film.

For those that feel that Michael Moore has twisted the truth into a format which he finds more to his liking (an understandable viewpoint), Moore has provided information about his fact checking on his website. This is definitely a good thing, however, it does not go 100% of the way to making Fahrenheit 9/11 a reliable source of information as a standalone piece. A brilliant example of this is the film's listing of countries that are part of the "Coalition of the Willing". About 10 countries are mentioned, countries like Palau, Costa Rica, Iceland and Romania. Glaringly, though, the two largest countries that are a part of this coalition are omitted (the U.K. and Australia), as are many of the other more large and/or influencial countries. This just smacks of misleadedness (cool, I think I made up a word), and is particularly obvious when watching as an Australian, my country (or its leader) was not mentioned once, not even in passing, for the film's duration. Fact checks don't go the whole way to resolving this mismatch; Moore's fact checking says that the fact presented was that "The Coalition of the Willing included Palau, Costa Rica, Iceland, Romania, The Netherlands, and Afghanistan.", and lists a source URL at the whitehouse site to prove this fact. And it's true, these countries are a part of the coalition, it's just that the way they're presented makes it look as though only countries of this size are members. Anyway, as my review has quickly turned into a rehash of that "Issues" essay I had to do in Year 12 English, I'll shut my trap now.

The best parts of Fahrenheit 9/11 are the bits that you haven't heard before, and would probably otherwise never hear, when taken in and processed by an intelligent brain. Moore said (on 60 Minutes last night, and I am paraphrasing) of the section where Bush sat in the classroom reading My Pet Goat with the kids after learning that the second plane had plowed into the WTC, that it had never been presented in such a fashion before, and that this presentation made all the difference. Having already heard that this is what happened, I think this was a bad example, but it shows Moore's way of thinking about his material, and it it's true that it's nice to hear a voice that's saying something different to what Bill O'Reilly is saying on Fox News every other day. For these bits, Fahrenheit 9/11 is worth watching. Oh, and for the bits where Bush makes a fool of himself (which, in contrast with his closing quote in the film, happens more than once). But a word of caution, if you haven't figured this out already: take it all with a rather large grain of salt.

pearly gives this movie 8 out of 10.
Review created on Mon 19 Jul 2004

Movie review statistics

Number of reviews: 2
Average rating: 7.00
Lowest rating: 6 (by timchuma)
Highest rating: 8 (by pearly)
 
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Reader comments

  1. This movie is indeed different from 'Bowling', in more than one way. The way I found it most different is that it is much more aggressive - Moore is more aggressive. The footage he shows is very rough, I specialle thought the scenes from Iraq or where it was - it's been a while since I last saw it - were very hard to watch, both the mother crying over her dead child and the body hanging from a piece of rope, burned and dismembered.
    It is clear that he is very passionate about the subject of the war in Iraq and Bush, and he certainly makes his oppinion clear! Too clear for some people. It is very unlike his other movies, I think, and not near as humorous. But I still like is, for all the reasons listed above, and more.

    Maria Brejner
    Denmark

    Rating given: 9

    A comment from Maria Brejner on Sat 22 Jul 2006 08:49 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 9.00 (1 rating)

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