What may surprise some about the film is how different it is from the rest of Moore’s oeuvre, his willingness to step aside and allow many passages of the film to unfurl naturally. Moore is still around, commenting on a number of scenes with his trademark acerbic wit, pointing out the shortcomings of the people and situations he presents, but some might find it amazing to find someone who so seemingly loves to live in the spotlight to let the images speak for themselves.
And some of those images presented are indeed graphic and gruesome. For while the film may have started out as an investigation into the connections between the Bush family and the Bin Laden family before and after September 11, it’s clear Moore had a change of heart sometime during the Iraqi war, coming into possession of some extraordinary footage which would never be shown on any nightly news program, the most disturbing being of the four American civilians who were ambushed in Fallujah this past April and burned alive, then hung from a bridge over the Euphrates River. It’s one thing to see those bodies hanging in a still photo taken from a distance in your local newspaper. It’s something different to watch the bodies burn in living color, with people beating the still-burning bodies with large sticks and dragging them through the streets tied to the back of cars. It’s sad and sickening to experience, and meant to disturb, which is does.
One could with good reason call a movie like “Fahrenheit 911” propaganda, and I doubt Mr. Moore would disagree. Moore is systematically propagating a cause reflecting his views and interests. Anyone who saw the Academy Awards in 2003 knows how he feels about the war in Iraq and the President, and this movie is an extension of that view. He feels a number of wrongs have been committed by those in power, and is exercising his first amendment rights to speak out and petition the government for a redress of his grievances.
How one will react to the film will depend on their own beliefs. I believe Moore brings up a number of issues which need to be discussed, and I find it disturbing that at least one member of the current administration, White House communications director Dan Bartlett, has denounced the film before they’ve taken the time to view it. I find it hard to believe there will be people out there who will not be moved by some of the stories presented, including Lila Lipscomb’s, a mother from Moore’s hometown of Flint, Michigan, whose son was one of the soldiers killed in the Iraqi war, who travels to the White House during a business trip to Washington D.C. and breaks down outside the gates.
In the end, I found “Fahrenheit 911” to be an overwhelming work of brilliance, an important work which should be seen by the widest audience possible. I do not agree with Moore’s stated agenda to use the film as a tool to get the President out of office, and I do have some reservations about a couple points he brings up in the film, but I do think the war in Iraq and the way our country has been run post-9/11 are important topics for our nation to discuss this election year.
And there, I’ve fallen into my own trap. Maybe you can’t separate this film from this filmmaker.Rating: A+