Fahrenheit 9/11

The opening of a Michael Moore film in Berkeley is like that of a Star Wars or Lord of the Rings movie anywhere else; most showings this weekend sold out, and when I went on Sunday afternoon I waited in a line that stretched around the corner at Kittredge and down Oxford St. At least two political organizations were handing out flyers (though I didn’t see East Bay for Kerry).
The film consists more or less of two sections; the first explores the Bush family’s relationship to Saudi Arabia and the bin Laden family, while the second looks at the Bush administration’s response to the 9/11 attacks, primarily the war in Afghanistan, the USA PATRIOT Act, and especially the war in Iraq. The first half is the weaker of the two: meandering, sometimes boring, with no real conspiratorial revelations. The thesis seems to be that Bush has such a collosal conflict of interest vis-a-vis Saudi Arabia that he cannot be trusted to take effective action against terrorists, but Moore does not argue this point very well. The second half, particularly the Iraq material, is better, and often very emotionally powerful (when Moore quits talking and just shows the footage). Throughout the film it’s clear that Moore’s strength is in selecting and arranging images for maximum impact, while his weaknesses are in the audio regime: a tendency to provide superfluous commentary, or cheesy music selections.
I’m not sure Fahrenheit 9/11 will change anybody’s mind, and I’m not sure I came away with any new information (the Bush/Saudi stuff is, after all, old news). On the other hand, the Iraq-related footage was valuable as a more emotional and humanized perspective on the war than I get from reading news on the internet. I recommend it for this, if nothing else.

One thought on “Fahrenheit 9/11

  1. Dad

    Haven’t seen the flick and probably won’t but your review stacks up with most of those I’ve read. This is very much preaching to the choir material from what I have heard.
    Did see Shrek 2 though. Now that was eight bucks well spent.

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