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Home / Movie Review: Fahrenheit 9/11 – Moore Reports, You Decide.

Movie Review: Fahrenheit 9/11 – Moore Reports, You Decide.

Fahrenheit 9/11 is Michael Moore’s film about President Bush, his administration and the way they have handled the war on terror, but then you probably already knew that if you have any access to the outside world.

The film covers a lot of areas, starting with the 2000 election. Not because Democrats and others are still upset about the outcome, which they are, but to show a pattern of how George W. has constantly been assisted throughout his life by his father and his father’s friends who have provided investments and job opportunities, including, some say, his current job. When we learn that the Saudis are some of those people who have assisted him, it doesn’t look good. One book that details their relationship is House of Bush, House of Saud: The Secret Relationship Between the World’s Two Most Powerful Dynasties by Craig Unger, who appears in the movie to discuss some of his points, such as the $1.4 billion that the Bushes and friends have made off their Saudi relationships.

Whether or not you should see this film depends on if you want to see the president having trouble speaking, the President flip-flopping on issues, members of the administration, knowingly or unknowingly, giving false evidence in the build-up to the war, members of the administration making statements about Iraq and 9/11 that they now deny making, what little the government has done to make the country safer, or the real cost of the war on soldiers and their families. These are the most serious issues, and I have yet to see or hear Moore’s detractors mention them.

Furthermore, if you don’t want to see the President completely fail to rise to the occasion when he’s notified that the country is under attack back on 9/11, then you shouldn’t watch this film. I’m sure you’ve heard by now that after being told about the second plane hitting the World Trade Center, he sat for seven minutes and continued his photo-op, reading My Pet Goat with school children. I keep hearing the spin that the President didn’t want to panic the country or the children by leaping into action, but if you look into his eyes, you see more confusion than steely resolve.

Has no President ever left an event early before? How would anyone have known what the reason for his leaving at that moment might have been? Shouldn’t an attack on the country, which at that point no one had any idea about its size or scope, be cause for a little panic on behalf of the citizenry? If an attack on our shores doesn’t move a President into action, what would?

Now, I don’t fault him not springing into action. The President said at a Town Hall meeting in Florida made available in a press release from 12/4/2001 that he “wasn’t sure what to think at first.” He had no foreign policy background and limited military experience before taking the job. He came into office as a delegator and was going to run the country like a C.E.O. We know that he didn’t pay attention to briefings he got in August while on his ranch. He certainly wasn’t going to get into a fighter jet and battle the terrorists, a la Independence Day, and not solely because during his time in the National Guard he trained in an obsolete plane.

But there was no response from the President. None. He just sat there. He doesn’t say anything to his chief of staff. Not, “I’m sure the military knows what to do,” not “I’ll finish the book and then leave,” not even “What should I do?” He stares off, bites the inside of his lip, and just sits there, understandably lost.

Moore comments on the audio track, but there was no need to say anything. He piles on which adds to the charges of unfairness and distracts from the point. But to be fair to the President, the next step for the country I would hope should already be out of his hands. I don’t believe the military and other authorities were waiting to hear from him before they responded to the 9/11 attacks. Could you imagine a general saying, “I hope the President calls soon, so we can start defending the nation.”

Another flaw in Moore’s execution is that he sometimes plays fast and loose with the facts, giving his enemies fodder and his allies pause. For example, while trying to make a humorous point, Moore sets himself up to be called out for telling half-truths when he talks about the Coalition of the Willing. He shows countries like Palau and Costa Rica, which provided no troops. This causes conservatives to jump up and say, “Hah! He’s lying. He left out Britain, Italy and other countries.” His critics are correct, but to be accurate, Moore never said he was providing a list of the entire coalition.

Yes, there were a number of countries giving aid, but conservatives should be careful what they wish for because once you see the list, you learn the amount of forces supplied by the Coalition members is paltry compared to our 130,000 troops, making it look for like the Coalition of the Bare Minimum. I found the list, last updated on May 6, 2004 on the CBC’s website and it’s nothing to brag about. Britain was our biggest ally and they only gave us 9,000 troops, followed by Italy with 3,000. Only three other countries gave more than 1,000.

The film has interesting theories about the way the Bush administration has been working behind the scenes. It’s all circumstantial evidence at this time, but some actions of the accused certainly fit into proposed theories and there can’t be that many coincidences. Why is it so unbelievable that the rich and powerful would try to stay rich and powerful? Doesn’t history and mythology from all cultures warn us of this? If power corrupts, why would the people now in charge somehow be immune? Does being Republican, Conservative, and/or Christian protect you from the influence of power and wealth?

I questioned whether or not to review this film. Most people have decided they love it or hate it before even seeing it. This is not a film you can feel apathetic towards; however, you shouldn’t accept everything you see in it and you shouldn’t accept what anyone is saying about it, including myself, because people you don’t like can tell the truth and people you do can be liars. Do your own research. Make up your mind.

There are some people who don’t want you to think for yourself, such as the pathetic group of conservatives who started a website and email campaign to keep it from being shown. It’s amazing how some people only believe in free speech and the marketplace when it’s something they agree with. Any idiot can write whatever he wants and get it posted on the Internet. Who knows that better than myself? It is comforting to see that, once again, foolish, uninformed protests of a film have created free publicity and assisted in making this film number one for its opening weekend.

I’m glad I don’t own Disney stock because C.E.O. Michael Eisner has made yet another bad-for-business decision and truly needs to be run out of town on a rail. His rational was that the Disney Company did not want to distribute a highly partisan film in the middle of a presidential election year. Is this guy goofy? Has he not heard the programs that are syndicated on ABC radio? Does he believe that conservative talk-radio hosts Larry Elder and Sean Hannity aren’t partisan? He’s either a liar or an idiot although I’m sure Roy Disney is thinking, “all of the above.”

In regards to some of the naysayers, I wanted to address some of them because many are so over the top and so easy to deal with. The trick is to listen to what critics complain about, what proof they offer and what they make no mention of. Consistency should be a main consideration behind a person’s validity. For example, Republicans were aghast when Kerry said the F-word in Rolling Stone, but there’s no problem when the Vice President, whose spokesman denied he said it at first, uses it in the Senate. That fact that people can’t calmly and fairly address the points and suppositions the film presents makes me wonder if there might be some credence to some of the film’s wilder theories. It is also funny to listen to pundits talk about truth and accuracy, when they don’t police their own.

Moore is chastised because the film is biased, which is somehow supposed to disqualify it from being a documentary. Those detractors obviously don’t know the art form because most, if not all, of the documentaries I have seen had a point of view being advocated.

“He stole my title and changed the numbers without ever asking me for permission,” whines author Ray Bradbury, who wrote Something Wicked This Way Comes. That line may be familiar to theatergoers because it’s from Shakespeare’s Macbeth Act 4, Scene 1. Moore uses allusion and Bradbury performs outright theft. He gets no pity from me. It’s like Led Zeppelin bemoaning all the imitators they spawned while making no mention of all the blues musicians they ripped off.

“This is a verbatim quote from the film — I wrote it down last night — quote — “The Bush family wakes up thinking what’s best for the Saudis, not what’s best for you and me in America.” Tucker Carlson, Crossfire, CNN. Of course, Tucker makes his point in the same manner with which he faults Moore for using, partial statements taken out of context. This was from a sequence of the film where Moore shows the billions of dollars made by the Bush family and friends due to their connections with the Saud family. Moore posed the question about where the Bushes’ interest lies. He doesn’t answer it, although he alludes to it, and from the evidence presented in the film, it seemed like a fair question. I was always told there are no stupid questions, only stupid television personalities.

Although you won’t know it from the reaction, this is Moore’s best film. He doesn’t get in the way of the story. Instead, he lets the people most involved do the talking because they do it better. We hear the disillusioned soldiers and the grieved parents. Only hardened partisans would not be moved by the power of these sequences. Sure, he jumps into the fray a couple of times like when he rides in an ice cream truck around the Capitol Building, reading The Patriot Act to members of Congress who never read it before they voted or trying to get Congressman to enlist family members, but his on-screen involvement is sharply decreased from his previous work.

Even though there were flaws in the presentation, driven by Moore’s desire to present his version of events, I enjoyed this film a great deal and found myself entertained, angry and saddened by different scenes. A majority of viewers might be surprised by what they learn, but I already knew about most of the information presented in the film. Some of it is fact and some is conjecture. Unfortunately, there is no differentiation between two. Moore Reports, You Decide.

About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/ElBicho_CS

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