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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Moore about 9/11
by Diana Saenger

Michael Moore, who evoked considerable controversy with Roger & Me and Bowling for Columbine, stirs the political pot again with Fahrenheit 9/11. Almost everyone on the left adores his new incendiary documentary. After all, it received an exceptionally long standing ovation at Cannes Film Festival and captured the Best Film award there. In contrast, right-wingers sound out daily on conservative radio talk shows about the film being an out-and-out lie -- just Moore’s own personal attack on President Bush.

Actually, for anyone who can go into the film without a particular bias, the truth lies somewhere in between. Moore’s goal in making the movie is to question how and why Bush and his inner circle avoided pursuing the Saudi connection to 9/11, despite the fact that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis and Saudi money had funded Al Qaeda.

As a filmmaker, Moore offers some entertaining moments in Fahrenheit 9/11. I couldn’t help wondering how he got some of the amazing footage he used in this film such as scenes of Bush continually on vacation, night patrols in Iraq and meetings between President George H. W. Bush and many Saudis during corporate conferences and important financial meetings.

During other parts of the documentary, Moore injects his satirical humor by adding short cartoon segments. In one such segment, all the men of The Ponderosa come riding out -- but they have the heads of Bush and his cabinet members instead of the original actors. And some scenes unravel to the twang of a hillbilly banjo. Of course, there are some very interesting splice and dice tricks done with editing -- some obvious, others questionable.

Since Fahrenheit 9/11 is Moore’s left-wing attack on the current political power, that aspect of the film cannot be overlooked. He stacks his cards well. There’s a long slow focus on the footage of President Bush after being told “America is under attack” when the second plane hit the tower on 9/11, and he continued to read “My Pet Goat” for nearly seven minutes in a Florida classroom.

Many notable names speak their minds, like Washington’s Republican Jim McDermott. A psychiatrist who worked with Vietnam veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, McDermott discusses the Patriot Act, the war on terror and the treatment of Iraq war veterans.

Other segments raise eyebrows -- Moore following mother Lila Lipscomb to Washington D. C. to face the fact that her son died in Iraq, or the footage following Marine recruiters in Flint as they approach teenagers outside a shopping mall to enlist them in the military and appear willing to tell these youngsters anything to get the information they want. However, the more I think about it, the actions of these “recruiters” appear less and less like real ones, so I’m not sure if they were staged or not.

Moore travels to Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. to persuade congressmen to send their sons to Iraq. Apparently only one congressman has a son fighting in the war. The reactions of John Tanner (D-TN) and other congressmen to Moore’s request are quite amusing.

I found the details about The Carlyle Group, Halliburton, and Enron as well as the Bushes’ and Saudis’ involvement very intriguing. It’s hard to ignore this footage.

With a “who’s right” tug-of-war playing out in the media everyday, Fahrenheit 9/11 is obviously Moore’s pitch for a regime change. Because this film is really about asking questions and getting answers, it doesn’t hurt to have as many questions as possible if you want to find the truth. My advice is to see the movie for yourself and make up your own mind. 

(Released by Lions Gate Films and rated “R” for violent and disturbing images and for language.)

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