Fahrenheit 911, the number one grossing documentary of all time takes a controversial look at George W. Bush and the links that are shared with the Saudi’s. The spearhead behind this film is Michael Moore, a highly publicized, much argued about filmmaker from Michigan. This film, following Moore’s previously successful “Bowling for Columbine” deals with both the causes and repercussions of September 11th, 2001 and the invasion of Iraq. Though this film is categorized as a documentary, Fahrenheit 911 is in fact, not a documentary.
When the Academy Awards decides the documentary nominees, they follow one rule: a documentary must be: nonfiction. An eligible documentary film is defined as a theatrically released non-fiction motion picture dealing creatively with cultural, artistic, historical, social, scientific, economic, or other subjects.” It may be photographed in actual occurrence, or may employ partial re-enactment, stock footage, stills, animation, stop-motion, or other techniques, as long as the emphasis is on fact and not on fiction.” Michael Moore, purposefully deceives viewers-that means this film is fiction-not a documentary.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines a documentary as a “motion picture or a television program that dramatically shows or analyzes events, a social condition with no fictionalization or editorial comment.” Propaganda in that same dictionary is defined as a “systematic, widespread dissemination or promotion of particular ideas or doctrines to further one’s own cause or to damage an opposing one; often used despairingly to connote deception or distortion.” Fahrenheit 911 is nothing more than cinematic propaganda. The film tries to take issue conscious people and make them believe his own distorted facts without questions. But the fact is this: Moore tells a good story, but it seems as though he has lost some of the real facts. A documentary film shoots the truth-not what Michael Moore feels to be true.
This is for both his facts and the filming techniques. Michael Moore knows he is leading the viewer one way. This is why his documentary is not “sincere” He is not concerned with the real accuracy of the facts-he just wants the words to be out there. It is clear that Moore is aware of the contradictions by the way the scenes change. Under his direction scenes jump at a rapid pace, not allowing the common viewer to think about issues evolving from Moore’s facts. Moore also adds music to these scenes causing a distraction. Fahrenheit 911 is fiction.
The points Moore makes deceive and mislead the public. He has also been known to heavily edit speeches (which he uses so much of) as well as putting together certain sound bites of a single speaker and forming them into sentences that are made to be their own. The major “documentary” techniques used are lies and deception-this is to sway the public. Moore will never be a true documentary filmmaker. Otherwise he would not be asking such one-sided questions. It is hard to say that Moore’s documentary style is that of advocate and movement. Since this is not a documentary, how can one categorize Moore with films like Nanook of the North, The War Room or even Triumph of the Will.
For example look at Moore’s camera techniques. Moore only uses footage of President Bush with the “deer in the headlights” look. Not once is Bush shown in a competent manner. The footage used is also very grainy and never 100% clear. This also gives the image of distortion-that President Bush is a distortion in himself. He is always in the shadows with the camera speed slowing down almost to a complete stop. What about the scene reviewing Bush’s Texas National Guard incident where he failed the physical? In the background Moore chooses to play Eric Clapton’s song “Cocaine.” Quite an accusation that is not tied down by anything.
In the same breath one wonders what the film is indeed about. Is it about how politics grew and formed after the terrorist attacks on September 11th? Is it about how the Saudi wealthy own half of the United States? Why raise all these questions about Prince Bandar and not approach him? Obviously, this film had both the budget and capability of trying to ascertain such an interview. There is no shown attempt of trying to contact the man. Wouldn’t a point be proven more substantially by just attempting to get in touch with the center of the controversy? Even a “no comment” or a shoving away of the camera says more than a missing attempt altogether. Another point not nailed down by Moore.
One of the staples in previews for Fahrenheit 911 is George W. Bush on a golf course. In the middle of the warm sun, looking casual he says: “I call upon all nations to do everything they can to stop these terrorist killers. Thank you. [George W. Bush brandishes a golf club] Now, watch this drive.” It is sure to bring laughs and help prove his point about Bush’s lack of concern for the country. This scene runs parallel to the footage of the morning of September 11th, 2001.
President Bush is in a kindergarten classroom reading with a group of children. An aide walks in and says that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. Two minutes later the President’s chief of staff whispers to the President that America was “under attack.” President Bush sat there in what looked to be disbelief and picked up a children’s book.
The camera focuses in closely on bush then zooms out. By using this sequence Moore is crying out “why did the President just sit there, why didn’t he do anything.!?” But Moore never looked at the situation this way: he was with a group of 5 and 6 year olds-if he was rushed off and all the secret service swarmed in, would that not damage the children emotionally for a very long time? Why not explore the issue? Another issue not nailed down by Michael Moore.
In documentaries sarcasm can be present. But what separates real documentaries from Moore’s Fahrenheit 911 is that the sarcasm can be seen and felt through the pictures, not said and laid out one by one by the narrator. This is definitely proven in the opening of the film. It plays on two main points” the previously mentioned Prince Bandar and the flights the U.S. government provided for members of the Bin laden family on September 13th, 2001. Moore alleges that it was Bush because of his allegiance to the Saudi’s that authorized those flights.
This is his opening and a major aspect of the film. It lays the foundation for criticism for Bush. Yet his point cannot be taken. From Richard Clarke’s own mouth he said “I, and I alone authorized the flights out of the United States for the Bin Laden family.” Richard Clarke was almost like a poster boy for Michael Moore-exposing the lies and wrongdoings of the Bush administration. But this one little part did not go the way Moore would have liked it to. It is surprising that Moore did not edit his opening to reflect this.
This is not a documentary. This is nothing more than a promotional video for John Kerry and the Democratic party. It is election-time, campaign propaganda. If you choose to be a Republican you are wrong. If you choose to be a liberal democrat, way to go!! In the scenes showing before the U.S. lead invasion in Iraq and the devastation afterwards Moore generalizes over a “sovereign” Iraq. He says that Iraq had never threatened the United States.”
Lest we quickly forget the atrocities Saddam Hussein committed to his own people. Those statements are pure ignorance on Moore’s part. Did he not use a clip of President Bush saying, “This was the man who tried to kill my dad.”? Whether Moore believes it or not, President Bush Sr. is an American. An assassination attempt on him would mean an attack on America. Sorry Mr. Moore.
Fahrenheit 911, the number one grossing documentary of all time takes a controversial look at George W. Bush and the links that are shared with the Saudi’s. The spearhead behind this film is Michael Moore, a highly publicized, much argued about filmmaker from Michigan. Though this film is categorized as a documentary, Fahrenheit 911 is in fact, not a documentary.