Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004)

Genres - Culture & Society  |   Sub-Genres - Social Issues, Politics & Government, Tragedies & Catastrophes  |   Release Date - Jun 23, 2004 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 122 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Tracie Cooper

Those seeking a 126-minute raging tirade, whether to reaffirm their own feelings regarding the 43rd President of the United States, or of Michael Moore as a preachy leftist shill, will find themselves disappointed with Fahrenheit 9/11. While unabashedly edited to suit the conclusions that Moore has already reached, it is a far cry from being a personal vendetta. Rather, the film is a harsh indictment of the long-term results of corrupt business dealings and social injustice, and at the same time a tribute to -- and a rallying cry for -- the distinctly American souls trying to keep their heads above water in the face of it. At one point, Moore comments that immoral behavior can only breed more of the same, and that sentiment, more than anything else, is F9/11's underlying theme. The Bush administration and the obvious state of disconnect between themselves and the individuals they send to war are not portrayed as a two-dimensional evil force, but as the inevitable result of decades of immorality. Bush himself is presented as an incompetent but necessary cog in a machine much older and more insidious than he is, and while Moore does not pretend to give his audience a wholly fair look at the President, it is hard to imagine a context where an antiterrorism speech hastily delivered on a golf course seconds before Bush asks onlookers to "watch this drive" is anything other than cruel and insulting to the people who have suffered at the hands of war. Yet, the Democrats don't escape entirely unscathed -- in the film's chilling opening scenes, former Vice President Al Gore is met with applause after rejecting the heartfelt pleas of several Congress members to investigate the claims of disenfranchisement among African-American voters in Florida before legitimizing the 2000 election. The overwhelming amount of information and atrocities are held together by Michigan native Lila Lipscomb, who, reeling from the news of her son's death in Iraq, manages to communicate a leaden, all-encompassing sadness that scenes of war carnage, 9/11 families, and disillusioned soldiers were unable to express by themselves. Regardless of Moore's political leanings, Fahrenheit 9/11 puts a face on the "war on terror," and begs Americans to never stop questioning their government's proposals -- even when they come gift-wrapped in flags.