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Fahrenheit 9/11 (15)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Release of Fahrenheit 9/11. From Iraq: The eve of the invasion, Outside Abu Ghraib Prison, Eyewitness account form Samara. From Washington: Rose Garden press briefing, Condoleeza Rice’s 9/11 testimony, Lila Lipscomb at the Washington DC Premiere. Music: Soundtrack to War, System of a Down music video 'Boom', John Ashcroft Sings; Additional footage: Homeland security Miami style, Extended interview with Abdul Henderson, Arab/American comedians, Kudos Youth Group, Career Gear featurette.

IT BEARS all the hallmarks of the classic David versus Goliath struggle, as one man, namely Michael Moore, attempts to take on the might of the US government, in the form of President George W Bush, but it could yet prove equally as decisive as that mythical bout.

Fahrenheit 9/11 is the film everybody seems to be talking about. An incendiary look at America, post September 11, 2001, it has since enjoyed the strongest Box Office opening ever for a documentary, despite alleged attempts by both Disney and The White House to block its release.

And it is certain to place even more pressure on the beleaguered President of the United States, by questioning several of his policies and business allegiances, as well as depicting him as something of a fool.

Moore, himself, has stated that if the movie can ‘inspire a few of that 50 per cent that did not vote in this country to get back involved, to re-engage, then the movie will have accomplished something important’.

What it does do is re-awaken a nation’s senses at a time when they have the power to react. It may be one-sided and impartial, but given the propaganda emanating from The White House at the moment, as it seeks to justify its role in Iraq, who can really begrudge Moore a forum for his own propaganda, as is his democratic right?

Especially since many of the points he raises are extremely pertinent, and the questions he asks have long required answers.

For such reasons alone, the film makes for must-see viewing, so long as viewers remember to take a step back, afterwards, and realise that this is just one man’s opinion, and that many of the arguments have been over-simplified.

Moore is to be congratulated, however, for having the balls to make a stand. Like him or loathe him, there is no denying that he poses the questions that many have been afraid to ask.

His documentary, while laugh-out-loud funny, in places, is also extremely harrowing, refusing to pull any punches throughout the duration of its two-hour running time.

It opens with footage of the botched US Presidential elections of 2000, before stepping forward to that fateful day in September, when terrorists struck at the financial heart of a nation.

In what is likely to have viewers gasping with bewilderment, Bush is then seen contemplating news of the second plane crash into the World Trade Center, while reading a copy of ‘My Pet Goat’, at the children’s school he was attending.

And the hits then keep on coming, as Moore reveals how the government arranged for members of the Bin Laden family to be safely flown out of America just two days after the atrocities, and explores the numerous business links between Bush’s family and prominent Saudi families (including the relatives of Osama).

It also takes a look at the impact on grass-roots Americans, as the government bids to maintain the fear-factor, while simultaneously embarking upon a rigorous Army recruitment campaign among the lower classes.

And it sneaks cameras into Iraq, interviewing US soldiers about their disillusionment, before showing harrowing footage of the effects of US bombing campaigns on Iraqi women and children, as well as the troops themselves.

Such segments are every bit as explosive as the bombs which reigned down upon a nation themselves.

Moore, too, refrains from some of the showboating he resorted to during his Oscar-winning documentary, Bowling for Columbine, only occasionally putting himself in the picture, to show how he hired an ice cream van to circle Washington, in order to read the Patriot Act to America's congressmen for the first time, and also tried to get senators to enlist their own sons in the Army.

But such antics also provide some much-needed relief from the harder stuff he has in store, most notably his depiction of a pro-military mother, who subsequently loses one of her sons to the conflict.

Given the provocative nature of proceedings, it is little wonder that many of Moore’s ‘facts’ have been placed under scrutiny, and it is therefore up for viewers to form their own opinion of the conclusions it draws, rather than be bullied by either side.

But given the film’s release on the eve of another US election, it might just land the telling blow to Bush’s chances of re-election, and provide Moore with the most prized scalp of all. For that reason alone, it makes for compulsive viewing for anyone with their eye on current events.

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