Michael Moore, George Bush and Cronies, Lila Lipscomb
R (For some violent and disturbing images, and for language)
Ray Bradbury wrote a novel called Fahrenheit 451. It was about repression of freedoms in a society. 451 was the temperature at which books burned. Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore has taken on the Bush administration in a stinging assault titled Fahrenheit 9/11.
The picture is about the rise to power of George W. Bush, 43rd president of the United States of America. The film also goes over the events of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. It then goes on to talk about, as Moore put it in his Academy Award speech for documentary Bowling for Columbine , the “fictitious war” in Iraq.
The film opens suggesting Vice-President Al Gore as the winner in 2000. Then it illuminates the failures in Florida and the decision of the United States Supreme Court to halt a hand recount and give the election to Bush.
Fahrenheit 9/11 then proceeds to the events of that fateful day in 2001 when a group of terrorists linked to the Al Qaeda terrorist network flew two planes into the twin towers in New York City, one into the pentagon and one into a field in Pennsylvania. Thousands died while George Bush Jr. calmly reads a story to children in Florida. That’s the picture Moore paints as he shows us a seemingly disinterested president ignoring his duty to leap into action in defense of the country.
Moore then looks at the grounding of flights into and within the United States while several members of Osama bin Laden’s family are allowed to fly out of the country back to Saudi Arabia.
The film also talks about Bush’s links to Saudi oil money, his failures as a businessman in Texas and his ascension to his family’s political dynasty. It talks about the Bush assertion of a link between Al Qaeda and Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and the war that began from it.
While many would say the film is entirely anti-Bush, there are a number of scenes in the film which avoid any blame-placing and simply look at the tragedy of those horrible events. One can’t help but watch the film and feel great pangs of sorrow. The emotions flow harder as Moore follows a mother, Lila Lipscomb, from Flint, Mich. whose family has always supported military service. Her son went into Iraq and died for his country.
The war heavily divided the country. People protested against the war. Others protested the protestations, thinking it unpatriotic to criticize one’s government in such a time. Moore, however, doesn’t let that sentiment get in his way. He uses it to his benefit in one scene in Washington D.C. Lipscomb has come to protest the government’s war. She approaches a foreign protestor staging a demonstration. Another woman walks up complaining that “this is all staged!” Lipscomb retorts with a heart-wrenching plea “my *son* is not staged.” In one brief moment, every sympathy for those who have lost their lives for a cause that many say is unjust comes rushing to the surface.
Some might say documentary filmmaking presents facts for the viewer to interpret but Moore is a different type of documentarian. He believes that the facts should be displayed for the filmgoer and assistance should be offered in its interpretation. Fahrenheit 9/11 does exactly what Moore set out to do. It doesn’t give every fact in support of the arguments, nor does it give every dissenting opinion. What it does is displays a great tragedy spawned by an even greater tragedy.
Anyone who goes into Fahrenheit 9/11 with incredulity will come out with it. Moore’s film doesn’t set out to convert the hardcore faithful. It sets out to convert the concerned, the independent and the open. Those who have already chosen sides will find either find supporting evidence for their cause or will find a way to debunk the film. Fahrenheit 9/11 isn’t perfect but it’s effective.
December 31, 2004