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 Af... Read allMichael 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.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.
It doesn't matter. For a film like this, any publicity is beneficial, and Michael Moore has gone out of his way to thank his conservative detractors for their support.
As a movie, it's a whirlwind tour of corruption and diplomatic deceit at the highest levels of the industrial-political machine, mixed with direct examination of the lives of the "ordinary" people affected by the decisions of the aristocratic few. Much like a roller-coaster ride, it pulls you up the first steep incline with images of the 2000 presidential election followed by the major players in the bush administration getting ready for their performances, and then comes the first plunge: a stomach-wrenching drop into the black screen, with only the sounds of that awful day in September when "everything changed". Fade back in on the people of New York, confused, hurting, seeking their loved ones in the rubble.
From here on, there is no stopping for breath. We observe the flight of Saudi aristocrats who, but for their political connections, might have been held as material witnesses. Moore depicts vividly the links between the Bush family and their Saudi friends, one of whom (Prince Bandar) "earns" the Bush surname. On it goes, fact after fact after irrefutable and disgusting fact. Many of us entered the theatre thinking we knew the score, but seldom has an overview of each tree led to such a complete vision of the forest.
Along the way, we'll see behavior from members of the bush administration that cannot be described as flattering -- but once again, this isn't up for debate. It's the facts, it's what they themselves said. You can argue context, but the footage speaks for itself. And more than anything else, this is where Michael Moore proves he's grown as a director. No longer are his films chock-full of his narrative, he lets the evildoers hoist themselves on their own petards without as much overdubbed commentary. His statement rests in the overall structure of the film, rather than his usual assortment of shame-defying pecadillos and exposes.
Which is not to say that fans of his spirited antics won't have something to watch, as he drives around the capital building in an ice cream truck reading the Patriot act to the representatives who never bothered to read the legislation they passed, or chases after congressmen trying to get them interested in enlisting their children for a tour of duty in Iraq.
Aaah, Iraq. The second half of the film deals with the buildup to and execution of our current adventure in nation building. Iraq is shown with a brief clip from before and a whole lot of after -- with its people confused, hurting, seeking their loved ones in the rubble. Our soldiers are also given plenty of time on-screen, time to describe what it's like, time to proclaim the thrills, dangers, and ennui of life as an occupying army. Far from being unsupportive as claimed by its detractors, this film makes every effort to give the front-liners their say. Wounded soldiers are treated with no less compassion than the other victims in this film. And unlike the corporate newsmedia, Moore's cameras dare to follow the injured to the Walter Reed medical center and into their underfunded rehabilitation.
And it follows the heart of a patriotic woman from Moore's hometown of Flint whose soldier son makes the ultimate sacrifice for Bush's folly.
This is, above all, a sympathetic, patriotic and humanistic movie. Even its main star, George W. Bush, is given a measure of understanding. We understand that he is out of his league, unable to push for the appropriate diplomatic solutions with Saudi Arabia, forever beholden to the corporate interests that purchased his throne, barely capable of coherent thought, and not at all comfortable with the responsibilities of the presidency. He would far rather be golfing, or "lookin' for bugs", or hanging at fundraisers with "the haves and the have-mores"; the presidency is a burden he clearly cannot bear. He almost begs to be removed from office.
This movie has a lot more to say than any reviewer's encapsulation can convey. Ignore the naysayers who, in all likelihood, haven't even seen the film. Understand that the facts are the facts, the presentation is Mr. Moore's, and your opinion is your own.
My opinion: 10/10 -- If there's a documentary/editorial piece that could touch this one, I haven't seen it yet.
- Jun 29, 2004