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Fahrenheit 9/11
2004 - R - 112 Mins.
Director: Michael Moore
Producer: Jim Czarnecki
Written By: Michael Moore
Starring: Michael Moore George Bush
Review by: Greg Ursic

Honest, I promise not to make you look stupid - just take one of the pamphlets.
Politics and religion are two subjects that are supposedly verboten in polite conversation. And apparently in film as well: ask Mel Gibson about the travails of producing his little religious flick – no studio would touch it with a ten foot cross, and legions condemned it and him. Of course he’s been laughing all the way to the bank ever since.

Michael Moore had a similar experience in the aftermath of 'Bowling for Columbine': dozens of websites were spawned whose sole purpose was to spew vitriol about this mischievous hobbit and try to discredit what he says. The problem is no matter how manipulative he is, there is always a grain of truth to what he’s saying that makes people sit up and pay attention.

Judging from the rabid rants (including denunciations from the White House) that began flooding the Net weeks before the film’s release, Moore’s latest isn’t going to make him a lot more friends, especially on Capitol Hill; but it’s sure to get a lot of bums in seats.

Moore, a self confessed unapologetic left leaning liberal, is clearly no angel, nor is he objective - he has been called out for catching people off guard, and embroidering the truth, especially with his use of “creative” editing. His point is to be as outrageous as possible and provoke people to challenge him, and in turn hopefully what they see everyday and fail to acknowledge. Unfortunately in our age of apathy, doing so requires one to push the envelope. In this instance Moore tackles the events before, during and after 9/11 and George W. Bush’s involvement.

Moore makes a persuasive case that there were and still are very close personal and financial ties between the Bush family and the Saudi Royal family, including Osama’s kin, that influence his decision-making. How else can you explain the fact that after every commercial flight in North America had been grounded (including Daddy Bush) after the 9/11 tragedy, dozens of Saudis, including 24 members of the Bin Laden clan, were picked up and flown back to Saudi Arabia. Even more troubling, this was done without any of them having been questioned. The former agent in charge of the FBI’s Al Qaeda task force is still waiting for an answer. Lest we forget, 90% of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi and received most of their funding from prominent Saudis. More disturbing are the warning signs that Bush largely ignored before the event

An FBI report titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in America” given to Bush roughly two months before the attack appears to have been given short shrift by the White House. Similarly, although the specter of hijacked commercial airliners being used as weapons was highlighted in security briefings, reports of a spike in Saudi nationals with questionable connections enrolling in flight schools weren’t investigated. Indeed as recent hearings in Washington have demonstrated, there was an almost willful ignorance in the months leading up to the event. Moore then sets his sights on the post 9/11 world.

One of the first things to emerge from the proverbial ashes was the Patriot Act, a draconian bill drawn up to fight terrorism, which severely curtailed civil liberties: persons who looked suspicious could be arrested, refused access to an attorney, and held indefinitely without being charged with a crime. Even more frightening is the admission by a member of Congress that not only did no one voting for the bill read it, they rarely read any of the legislation they vote for. The populace has also been virtually paralyzed by the heightened sense of fear which has been exacerbated by the constant terror updates.

And then there’s Iraq.

Unless you’ve been living in one of the caves next to Osama Bin Laden, you know that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq , nor were there any links between Hussein and Bin Laden despite vigorous claims by Bush and his cabinet to the contrary. We watch as several of Bush’s inner circle nullify rumors of Hussein’s supposed stockpiles of WoMD, even stating that he lacks the facilities to produce them. Yet only months later they do a complete about face, decrying him as one of the gravest threats facing the world today (I'm paraphrasing here, but it was no less ominous).

So why the sudden rush to invade? Even Bush Senior noted in his memoirs that invading Iraq would be a fool’s errand. Was it personal for George Jr. (“You know he tried to kill my dad?”)? Or did the self-proclaimed “War President” feel that he had to make his mark? Or was it, as some have cynically suggested an attempt to shift the public’s attention away from the deficit/unemployment/ insert problem here? Surely it couldn’t have anything to do with the companies - including Halliburton VP Dick Cheney’s former employer, or the defense company that had Daddy Bush on its board of directors - that were literally lining up even before the invasion to profit from the eventual rebuilding. It is unlikely that we’ll ever know the real reasons, especially since Moore chooses to wander off on several tangents when there was clearly room for some more hard-hitting investigation.

The opening sequence dwells on the whole “Bush stole the election” theme. I was in Florida when the election went down, and I could go without hearing about dimpled chads for the rest of my life. Dwelling on the past will not change what has happened and it smacks of sour grapes. For those who remain outraged, there are much more productive ways to channel their energies (which ulitmately Moore's goal...). I also found that the subplot involving the mother from Flint whose son was in Iraq, while powerful and enlightening, could have been aggressively trimmed without losing its effect.

If you rely on CNN for your worldview, then the “revelations” in 'Fahrenheit 9/11' will both astound and enrage you. While it does contain some of the familiar Moore hyperbole that audiences have come to love and hate, even Moore’s staunchest critics won’t be able to ignore the simple fact that there is sufficient evidence to demonstrate that George W. Bush has acted questionably, and in many instances downright irresponsibly. In the process, he plunged the U.S. into a Middle Eastern Vietnam from which he can’t extricate himself and has further destabilized the region. As the body count and military deficits continue to skyrocket, maybe the public will start demanding some answers.

Movie Guru Rating
An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant. An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant. An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant. An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant. An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant.
  4.5 out of 5 stars

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