This review contains SPOILERS!
I think the moment that George W. Bush made a mistake—at least, in Michael Moore's eyes—was when they first met when Bush was still a governor. While at a conference of some sort, perhaps a rally, Michael Moore obviously wanted to get a word in with the soon-to-be President. He called across the crowd to Bush to get his attention, saying "Governor Bush, it's Michael Moore." Bush recognizes him and replies with a practiced charm: "Behave yourself, will ya?" The people around him chuckle so he adds a little barb: "Go find real work!"And it was this moment right here where Bush really messed up by mocking one of the most powerful documentary directors.
Michael Moore claims that his movie "Fahrenheit 9/11" is about truth instead of vengeance, but there is a vendetta against Bush that's clearly visible in the first five minutes. Moore's satirical and biting narration asks if he was dreaming when Al Gore was pronounced the President because Florida was called for him. Numerous networks projected Gore as the next President-elect; that is, until Fox News said something else.
You may, as I was, be incredulous to this notion; but Moore presents his evidence in such a way to make the viewer pause.
The man who "made the call" to predict Bush's winning Florida was someone who knew Bush (a cousin, if memory serves right). From here on the streets are lined with people that either Bush or his dad knew—there's people running the vote booths, hiring the companies to count the vote, and assisting in Bush's public image.
From the moment he stepped in office, after making a historically bad trek towards the capitol on inauguration day, when his car was pelted with eggs, he was bombarded with criticism. So, as Moore states, he does what any man would do...he takes a vacation.
Close to half of the time Bush was in office was spent on vacation, at least for the first part of his presidency...again, according to Moore's sources.
But we know what's coming, simply because of the title. Moore is obliterating when it comes to Bush's initial reaction to the planes crashing into the World Trade Center. This is a man who sat and read My Pet Goat instead of taking responsibility.
Now, before I go any further, I should say that I wasn't anti-Bush. He was handed an incredibly difficult set of circumstances; but that shouldn't mean that his handling the situation should be above critique.
Continuing...Moore hypothesizes what was going on in Bush's mind as he sat in that children's classroom, reading a kid's book. Here is the only weak moment in "Fahrenheit 9/11" because it does something that no good documentary should—it guesses. There's no way of knowing what Bush was thinking, why even try? I'll never know.
Then, in the months that followed, Bush made some pretty rough decisions. "Fahrenheit 9/11" states that Bush was a power driven, greed-filled, complete idiot who only wanted to con the American people into fear so that he could make money off of this terrible situation...it's slanderous at best. But, once again, it's hard to argue with Moore when he presents the evidence in the way he does.
After the shock wears away, the American people want answers and they don't get them. Moore's evidence here is the most compelling. He tracks the Bush family's dealing with Saudi Arabian companies and businessmen. Whether Bush knew about the attack or was just stupid, he never takes a side; but it's equally unflattering on either side of that coin.
Greed fills the screen and the viewer fills with rage, Moore can evoke surprisingly strong emotions.
But then, the film gets into the real meat of the matter—the Iraqi war. The war that took place in Iraq that shouldn't have occurred. (You should just assume that any statements I make are Moore's words). Iraq was a semi-peaceful country that had never threatened America with war, never tried to engage America in war, and had never killed an American...but that changed quickly.
Telling the American people, already manipulated into a frenzy, that Iraq had nuclear (pronounced: nuke-you-ler) weapons of mass destruction, Bush was able to bomb Iraq without being questioned too severely.
After the first bombing, Moore uses footage of a woman crazed with grief walking the ruined streets of her town. She raises her hands to the heavens and cries out to Allah. "Where are you God?" she asks. She shakes her fist as the camera and curses America with revenge...these people were innocent civilians, casualties of a war.
The film doesn't stop there, it goes on to look at the American soldiers. These people live in a video game world, pumping rock music into their helmets as they run out on missions. "Burn *expletive*" chime the gruesome lyrics. By this time, the viewer is extremely uncomfortable.
The soldiers then get a real taste of the war as they, and we, see burned corpses, dead babies, and pieces of humans strewn around the streets.
Moore lets his footage speak for itself...and it is quite powerful.
Then we get scenes like an interview with Britney Spears, who seems like an air-head. Moore can turn anyone into the image he wants.
"Fahrenheit 9/11" is a movie that wishes to change opinions, and it does. Moore interviews a woman who had children, cousins, brothers, and parents who were in the military. She claims that she has the quintessential "American" family. Moore interviews her several times...eventually she looses her son in the war and her opinion changes about Bush. It's no longer a honor, it's a crime. She goes to Washington, D.C. to look at the White House. A woman is sitting on the sidewalk, protesting the war. She calls the Americans "terrorists" and the mother can only nod and cry. She breaks down and the camera never wavers.
Moore's film is emotionally stunning and wildly gutsy, and I have changed my opinion of Bush which is rare because I'm rather stubborn.
"Fahrenheit 9/11" went on the win the Palme d'Or and see wide critical success. Whether or not you believe everything about the film, you can't deny its sheer power.
Score: 4 out of 4 stars