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Bowling for Columbine (2002)

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Filmmaker Michael Moore explores the roots of America's predilection for gun violence.



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Title: Bowling for Columbine (2002)

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 34 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »



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Michael Moore's view on what happened to the United States after September 11; and how the Bush Administration allegedly used the tragic event to push forward its agenda for unjust wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Director: Michael Moore
Stars: Michael Moore, George W. Bush, Ben Affleck


Credited cast:
Himself / Narrator
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Salvador Allende ...
Himself - President of Chile (archive footage)
Jacobo Arbenz ...
Himself - President of Guatemala (archive footage)
Mike Bradley ...
Himself - Mayor of Sarnia, Ontario, Canada
Arthur A. Busch ...
Himself - County Prosecutor: Flint, Michigan (as Arthur Busch)
Himself (archive footage)
Himself (archive footage)
Michael Caldwell ...
Himself - Police Detective
Richard Castaldo ...
Himself - Columbine Victim
Himself (archive footage)
Steve Davis ...
Himself - Deputy Sheriff (archive footage)
Ngo Dinh Diem ...
Himself - President of South Vietnam (archive footage)
Mike Epstein ...
Himself - Shopper in Mall
Joe Farmer ...
Himself - Superintendent of Schools (archive footage)


The United States of America is notorious for its astronomical number of people killed by firearms for a developed nation without a civil war. With his signature sense of angry humor, activist filmmaker Michael Moore sets out to explore the roots of this bloodshed. In doing so, he learns that the conventional answers of easy availability of guns, violent national history, violent entertainment and even poverty are inadequate to explain this violence when other cultures share those same factors without the equivalent carnage. In order to arrive at a possible explanation, Michael Moore takes on a deeper examination of America's culture of fear, bigotry and violence in a nation with widespread gun ownership. Furthermore, he seeks to investigate and confront the powerful elite political and corporate interests fanning this culture for their own unscrupulous gain. Written by Kenneth Chisholm (

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

gun | violence | bank | firearm | poverty | See more »


Is America a nation of gun nuts? Or just nuts? See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some violent images and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




| |


Release Date:

21 November 2002 (Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Akiryhtos polemos  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$4,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$6,738 (Hong Kong) (6 June 2003)


$312,914 (Brazil) (20 June 2003)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


This was the highest-grossing documentary until 2004 when Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004)--also directed by Michael Moore--made more in its opening weekend than this movie did in its entire run. See more »


A clip of a Godzilla-type monster roaring is shown while showing gun-related death rates for Japan. The clip, however, is from Gorgo, which was a UK production. See more »


Michael Moore: It was the morning of April 20th 1999, and it was pretty much like any other morning in America. The Farmer did his chores. The milkman made his deliveries. The President bombed another country whose name we couldn't pronounce. Out in Fargo, North Dakota, Cary McWilliams went on his morning walk. Back in Michigan, Mrs Hughes welcomed her students for another day of school. And out in a little town in Colorado, two boys went bowling at 6 in the morning. Yes, it was a typical day in the United ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

During the opening, archive footage is presented that claims the movie is presented by the National Rifle Association (NRA). See more »


Referenced in The Jay Leno Show: Episode #1.2 (2009) See more »


How the West Was Won and Where It Got Us
Written by Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, Michael Stipe
Performed by R.E.M.
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Records
By Arrangement with Warner Special Projects
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

"Media, Corporations, Politicians Have All Done Such a Good Job of Scaring the American Public, It's Come to Where They Don't Need to Give Any Reason At All."
13 June 2010 | by (Cincinnati, OH, United States) – See all my reviews

Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine is a documentary that is both extremely funny and depressing. We live in a nation of millions of handguns, but that isn't actually what disturbs Moore. What does is that we so constantly fire them at each other. Canada has a comparable percentage of guns to citizens, but a 10th of the shooting deaths. What causes us to kill so many more of one another than they do other developed nations? Moore, the spirited everyman reactionary, makes clear that he's an ex-sharpshooting counselor and a long-standing affiliate of the NRA. However, Moore has grown out of his youthful penchant for guns. In Bowling for Columbine, moreover, he is not so certain of the bottom line as in the popular Roger & Me, a film in which he saw who the bad guys were, and why. Here he asks questions he can't answer, such as why we as a nation feel so scared, such an urge for the consolation of guns. Observing that we relish urban legends meant to make us scared of strangers, Moore observes how TV news concentrates on local violence and says that while the murder rate is down 20 percent in America, TV coverage of violent crime is up 600 percent.

This vital and stimulating documentary is rated R, so that the Columbine killers would have been guarded from the violent images, mainly of themselves. The MPAA maintains its custom of forbidding teenagers from seeing those films they're most justified in seeing. What imaginary realm do the clockwork uniforms of the ratings board believe they are preserving? I do sometimes wonder how we should expect the ratings system should be run, but it's publicly declared to just be an optional industry system that nobody's obligated to abide. Alas, the rating ranked to a film on the whole shapes who sees it in a theater, and what kind of marketing and publicity for the movie will be agreed to by TV and newspapers.

Moore's consideration isn't limited to the dramatic ceremonies he captures to describe his misgivings. He goes various times to Columbine High School, at one point showcasing harrowing security-camera footage of the bloodbath. And Columbine motivates Moore to acquaint us with two surviving students shot at Columbine, both still with bullets lodged in them. He clarifies that all of the Columbine bullets were readily retailed to the teenage killers by Kmart, at 17 cents apiece. And then he takes the two targets to Kmart headquarters to return the bullets for a refund. This is ingenious showmanship and would appear to be convincing for the uncomfortable Kmart public relations spokespeople, who squirm and dodge in front of Moore's callous camera. But then, on Moore's third visit to headquarters, he is told that Kmart will consent to totally diminish the sale of ammunition. Incredibly for him, he's speechless.

The movie is a collage of Moore encounters and accessory clips and shots. One bit that sears to the bone is from a classic stand-up routine by Chris Rock, who professes that our issue could be resolved by just raising the price of bullets, taxing them like cigarettes. Rather than 17 cents apiece, why not $5,000? "There would be no innocent bystanders!" Moore purchases a Star Map to locate Charlton Heston, rings the bell on his gate, and is welcomed back for an interview. But Heston is evidently unaware of Moore's M.O., and his responses to Moore's questions are pretty hopeless. Heston not long after disclosed that he had signs of Alzheimer's disease, but there is no evidence in this footage that he was enfeebled. It's just that he cannot give reason why he, as a man living behind a gate in a safeguarded community, with security patrols, who has never felt himself in danger, requires a loaded gun in the house. Heston is just as ineffective when asked if he believes it was admirable or decent for him to speak at an NRA rally in Denver 10 days after Columbine.

Bowling for Columbine thinks we have way too many guns, don't require them, and are shooting each other at senseless proportions. Moore cannot select a culprit to answer for this reality, since it appears to arise from a country's urge to be armed. Early on, he tours a bank that's handing out guns to people who open new accounts. He questions a banker whether it isn't sort of risky to have all these guns in a bank. Not one bit. The bank, Moore finds, is a licensed gun dealership. I still can't figure that one out.

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